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These puffed-up worthies have shown contempt for natural justice, writes ANDREW TETTENBORN

MPs faced mounting pressure last night to end Partygate's investigation into Boris Johnson after top quality official Lord Pannick (pictured arriving at the Supreme Court in London in 2019) slammed him qualified as

The cheek of it! These puffed-up worthies showed contempt for natural justice, writes ANDREW TETTENBORN

Lord Pannick KC has one of the finest legal minds in the country. His view that the Commons investigation into Boris Johnson is unfair and flawed was debated with devastating clarity when he delivered it earlier this month – and sounded like a lot of slam-dunks against critics of the former Prime Minister.

By flatly rejecting his view, the Commons Privileges Committee showed contempt for natural justice. He insulted the principles of fairness and decency for which this country is famous.

Indeed, these inflated personalities go so far as to arrogantly accuse perhaps Britain’s most respected public advocate of a “systemic misunderstanding of parliamentary process”. The cheek of it!

MPs faced mounting pressure last night to end Partygate's investigation into Boris Johnson after top quality official Lord Pannick (pictured arriving at the Supreme Court in London in 2019) slammed him qualified as

Lord Pannick KC has one of the finest legal minds in the country. His view that the Commons investigation into Boris Johnson is unfair and flawed was debated with devastating clarity when he delivered it earlier this month.

The Commons Privileges Committee is led by Labor veteran Harriet Harman.  By flatly rejecting his view, the Commons Privileges Committee showed contempt for natural justice

The Commons Privileges Committee is led by Labor veteran Harriet Harman. By flatly rejecting his view, the Commons Privileges Committee showed contempt for natural justice

In case you’ve forgotten, Boris is charged with ‘contempt’ of the House of Commons, after allegedly misleading MPs in the ‘Partygate’ affair – that storm in a cup of tea the rest of which of us is long gone.

Lord Pannick pointed to a number of glaring flaws in the Committee’s approach – and rightly warned that if Boris were censured for unwittingly misleading the House, it would have a ‘chilling effect’ on democracy.

But in a statement yesterday, the committee, led by Labor veteran Harriet Harman, dismissed those arguments out of hand. Harman’s own views on Boris are clear. She tweeted in April that Boris and his then Chancellor Rishi Sunak had ‘misled’ the Commons by agreeing to a fine for breaching Covid regulations.

In case you forgot, Boris Johnson is accused of

In case you’ve forgotten, Boris Johnson is being charged with ‘contempt’ of the House of Commons, for allegedly misleading MPs in the ‘Partygate’ affair.

She also shared a blog post by former Labor press secretary Alastair Campbell which claimed the former PM had ‘snapped’. [his] own emergency laws”, “have repeatedly lied” and “trashed the ministerial code”.

How can a woman like this conduct a fair investigation? It feels like a witch hunt from the start. Harman herself only stepped in when the former leader, her Labor colleague Chris Bryant, recused himself after denouncing on social media: “The Prime Minister has broken the law, repeatedly lied to Parliament and refused correct the record.” Bryant concluded that Johnson was “unfit for office”.

Also on the committee is Tory MP for Newbury Laura Farris, an ally of Sunak who said parties in No 10 had a ‘corrosive effect on public trust’ and that the Prime Minister’s leadership was ‘untenable “.

Harman only intervened when the former leader, fellow Labor party Chris Bryant, recused himself after ranting on social media:

Harman only intervened when the former leader, his Labor colleague Chris Bryant, recused himself after raving on social media: “The Prime Minister has broken the law, repeatedly lied to Parliament and refused to correct the case.” Bryant concluded that Johnson was ‘not fit for the office’

Then there’s Allan Dorans of the Scottish National Party, who approvingly retweeted claims on social media that the ‘quack’ former Prime Minister is guilty of a ‘litany of lies’ and should be ‘put on the back burner’. gate “. A total of seven MPs sit on the committee: four Conservatives, two Labor and one SNP. All but two have expressed disgust with ‘Partygate’ or Boris himself.

Add to that Lord Pannick’s devastating analysis, and the whole investigation appears indefensible.

There is no logical alternative but to shut it down before it does further damage to the credibility of the Commons.

Let’s be clear: I do not want Parliament to be deprived of its powers to investigate contempt and other abuses committed by MPs.

Then there's Allan Dorans of the Scottish National Party, who approvingly retweeted claims on social media that the 'quack' former Prime Minister is guilty of a 'litany of lies' and should be 'put on the back burner'. gate

Then there’s Allan Dorans of the Scottish National Party, who approvingly retweeted claims on social media that the ‘quack’ former Prime Minister is guilty of a ‘litany of lies’ and should be ‘put on the back burner’. gate “.

However, we need urgent reform. It’s time we had a statute for ‘contempt’ of Parliament, with proper definitions, a clear legal framework establishing protections for defendants and the power for the courts to intervene if necessary.

And one thing that must be absolutely clear is that while lying to Parliament is contempt, inadvertently misleading the Commons is not. If this case goes against Boris and he is found in contempt, it will be bad for him – but worse for our democracy.

Will the Privileges Committee achieve all of this? I am not afraid. And so they will continue to erode public confidence in the very institutions they claim to defend.

Andrew Tettenborn is a writer and professor of law at Swansea University.

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