GB News: Public asked if they are bothered by ‘cake gate’
Minutes after Boris Johnson’s ‘defence dossier’ was published, Harriet Harman’s Privileges Committee took a brutal swipe at their investigatee. The committee told the press that Boris’s evidence contains “no new documentary evidence”. Mr Johnson’s team, however, suggests the Privileges Committee themselves received evidence that helps the former PM’s case but did not publish it. The Express has combed through Mr Johnson’s submission to find any new evidence.
New WhatsApp messages
Boris’s submission contains new evidence that his then-Director of Communications Jack Doyle WhatsApp-ed the PM on the evening of December 7 2021.
The text to the PM came after ITV published footage of Allegra Stratton joking about a cheese and wine evening in No. 10.
In the WhatsApp, Mr Doyle told Boris Johnson, “I think you can say ‘I’ve been assured there was no party and no rules were broken”.
The committee had not previously published this text message, which is argued to show Mr Johnson had – as he told the House of Commons – “been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.”
Boris Johnson will be questioned for four hours tomorrow lunchtime
New phone records
The interaction with Boris’s Communications Director Jack Doyle, above, was shortly followed up by a phone call to his predecessor James Slack.
Boris, who describes James Slack in his submission as “a man of great integrity”, says he called Mr Slack as he was in the building on the evening of 18 December 2020.
He confirmed to the Prime Minister “that the Rules were followed”.
The committee had not previously reported this conversation.
Harriet Harman’s committee said Boris’s defence dossier contains no new evidence
Boris wanted to ‘get the truth out there’
Despite allegations the former Prime Minister tried covering up parties in Downing Street, Mr Johnson told a senior member of his team in December 2021 to “get the truth about this party out there”.
In his submission, he cites WhatsApps – which he says were already “in the Committee’s possession” – sent to his Head of Communications Jack Doyle saying “Is there a way we could get the truth about this party out there”.
He adds, “I used ‘party’ as shorthand because that is how it was being referred to in the media”.
Elsewhere in his submission, Boris says “I was not trying to conceal these events because I believed that there was nothing to conceal or cover up”
“I honestly and reasonably believed that the Rules and Guidance were followed at the events.”
Boris Johnson was fined for a ‘birthday party’ in No. 10
No. 10’s press office briefed out information about the party Boris was fined for attending
Boris’s single Fixed Penalty Notice, handed to him by the Metropolitan Police, was over a ‘birthday party’.
Boris’s dossier, however, argues that at the time no one believed this gathering was rule-breaking – so much so that the No. 10 press office briefed details of the gathering to The Times.
In June 2020 The Times ran an article that opened with details about Boris’s birthday bash.
“Boris Johnson celebrated his 56th birthday yesterday with a small gathering in the cabinet room. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and a group of aides sang him Happy Birthday before they tucked into a Union Jack cake.”
For the first time in today’s evidence, Mr Johnson revealed the No. 10 press office actively gave this information to the paper.
Boris argues “it is implausible that details of the gathering would have been briefed out if anyone considered that it was contrary to the Rules or Guidance.”
He further clarifies, “No cake was eaten, and no-one even sang ‘happy birthday’”.
Boris Johnson said no cake was eaten during a No. 10 birthday gathering
Third-party witnesses’ evidence to the Committee
Boris’s defence dossier also includes evidence given by his then-colleagues to the Committee, which the committee has so far not put into the public domain.
Evidence given by Andrew Griffith MP – the then Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Boris Johnson – told the committee that “based upon everything that I personally saw or heard… it is my honest belief that Mr Johnson did not deliberately or negligently mislead the House”.
“I recall that in the daily Office Meeting, as newspapers initially published allegations of gatherings in No 10, Mr Johnson was given assurances by multiple different 10 Downing Street staff present.
“The substance (though to be clear not the precise wording) of the assurances by Downing Street staff to Mr Johnson in response to the initial article was “Are they kidding me? We were all working our socks off during Covid – no one had time for any parties!”
Sarah Dines MP – Boris Johnson’s second PPS – also gave evidence to the committee saying she witnessed Boris being told by multiple people that Downing Street followed Covid guidance.
“I remember on one occasion whilst I was at a meeting with Mr Johnson with many other people in the Cabinet Room that Mr Johnson as a question of the meeting “we did follow the rules at all times, didn’t we?
“I recall more than one person in the room said “Yes, of course.” I am not certain who the people who said yes, but I am certain they were civil servants and it was more than one voice.
“I am about 90% sure one of them was Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary.”
Sarah Dine’s evidence was similarly not published in the Privileges Committee’s interim report.
*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.