A parliamentary committee has sought diary entries, emails, images, and text conversations from Boris Johnson’s office as part of an investigation into whether the prime minister misled parliament about the COVID-19 lockdown-breaking events in Downing Street.
The Privileges Committee will investigate whether Johnson, who announced last week that he would resign in response to mounting pressure from many of his own ministers and legislators, deceived parliament with his different pronouncements on so-called partygate.
A vote in parliament prompted the committee’s probe.
Ministers who are determined to have willfully deceived parliament must resign, according to tradition. Given that Johnson has already stated his intention to resign, such a decision would merely alter public image of his tenure.
Johnson first told parliament that his Downing Street office had followed all lockdown procedures during the COVID outbreak, but an internal audit revealed that it had conducted multiple alcohol-fueled parties during that period.
Police also punished the prime minister for a celebration of his 56th birthday. He denies intentionally deceiving parliament and claims he was unaware he was breaching the laws. He has apologized for his actions.
The committee said that it had written to Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case requesting a broad variety of papers, including the prime minister’s diaries for days of meetings at his Downing Street apartment and office.
The committee also sought emails, Whatsapp conversations, entrance records for 10 Downing Street, legal advice obtained by Johnson or commissioned by his staff, and briefing packets produced for the prime minister ahead of his appearances in parliament.
It has also requested information on any pertinent papers that were previously known to exist but were later erased.
The committee said that it expects to begin oral testimony sessions in September, when parliament returns from its summer recess.