Boris Johnson clears himself of breaching ministerial code

Boris Johnson clears himself of breaching ministerial code

Boris Johnson has written to his ethics chief, clearing himself of breaching the ministerial code over Partygate after the adviser said there was a legitimate question about whether he had done so.

A letter from the prime minister to Christopher Geidt, his independent adviser on ministers' interests, was published on Tuesday by Lord Geidt, in which the adviser said that there was a legitimate question about whether or not receiving a fixed-penalty notice for breaking coronaviruses was a breach of the code.

Johnson had apologised for attending the birthday party for which he received a fixed-penalty notice, and insisted that at the time I did not consider that the circumstances in which I received a fixed-penalty notice were contrary to the regulations. The prime minister offered an apology to MPs last week after the final report by senior civil servant Sue Gray showed the boozy culture of late-night parties that took hold in Downing Street during the Pandemic.

Johnson insists he only attended events in order to say goodbye to departing staff he considered to be part of his role as a leader and that such gatherings only got out of hand after he left them.

Geidt, who is supposed to advise Johnson over whether ministers have breached the code, dodged the question of whether the prime minister himself had done so for fear of having to resign if Johnson ignored him.

He said I tried to avoid the independent adviser who offered advice to a prime minister about a prime minister's obligations under his own ministerial code. If a prime minister's judgement is that there is nothing to investigate or no case to answer, he would be bound to reject any such advice, forcing the resignation of the independent adviser. Such a circular process could place the ministerial code in a place of ridicule. Geidt resigned after Johnson's previous ethics adviser, Sir Alex Allan, overruled his decision to resign, as he had repeatedly urged Johnson's advisers to give public comment on his obligations under the ministerial code, even if he had judged himself not to be in breach.

The guidelines set out in the ministerial code include that ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation In his letter to Geidt, Johnson said he had corrected the parliamentary record and had followed the principles of leadership and accountability in doing so. Geidt is independent and the prime minister is the ultimate arbiter of the ministerial code, which sets out the principles that public servants should follow, including selflessness and integrity.

Johnson ended his letter to Geidt by saying that he believed that these principles should be the bedrock of standards in our country and in this administration. The prime minister was criticised last week for not giving Geidt the power to launch his own investigations.

Geidt supported Johnson's move to reduce penalties for minor breaches of the code so that ministers could have their salary docked instead of resigning, despite the fact that the proposals made by Johnson to beef up the system were at a low level of ambition.