Boris Johnson apologises in ‘Partygate’ grilling

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Boris Johnson Apologises In 'Partygate' Grilling

London, March 23

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised for misleading Parliament in a scandal over parties held at Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johnson made the apology on Wednesday during a marathon grilling session of the cross-party Committee of Privileges in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament, reports Xinhua news agency.

With a Bible in his hands, he said: "Hand on heart, I did not lie to the House."

The former Prime Minister admitted social distancing had not been "perfect" at gatherings in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.

But he said they were "essential" work events, which he claimed were allowed.

Johnson was forced to resign in July last year over a string of scandals, including 'Partygate'.

When revelations of the parties at Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 first emerged in late 2021, Johnson initially said that no rules had been broken.

He later apologised and said there had been "misjudgments", as he mistook those parties for work events.

Responding to a claim on Wednesday that it should have been obvious that such parties broke Covid-19 rules, Johnson said it "must have been equally obvious" to dozens of other senior officials, including incumbent Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

In new evidence published by the parliamentary committee a few hours before the hearing, a government official said Johnson had the opportunity to stop the partying but "allowed the culture to continue".

The committee will now consider Johnson's testimony along with other evidence, before publishing its verdict on the case by the summer.

Johnson could be suspended from the House of Commons if the committee rules that he misled lawmakers deliberately -- a move that might trigger a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

--IANS

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