Lord Pannick’s advice on the “illegal” investigation cost £ 130,000

Lord Pannick’s advice on the “illegal” investigation cost £ 130,000

Lord Pannick’s advice on the “illegal” investigation cost £ 130,000

Lord Pannick said the Privileges Committee is adopting a

Lord Pannick said the Privileges Committee is adopting an “unfair procedure” (Chris Radburn / PA) (PA Wire)

Government-commissioned legal advice from a prominent lawyer criticizing the House of Commons investigation into Boris Johnson deceiving Parliament reportedly cost the taxpayer nearly £ 130,000.

On Friday, Lord Pannick said the Privilege Committee was adopting an “unfair procedure” and a “fundamentally flawed” approach.

Downing Street commissioned legal advice from the crossbench peer and released it on Friday in a very unusual move, accusing the outgoing Prime Minister of attempting to “intimidate” the committee in an attempt to clear his name.

The Guardian first reported Friday that a £ 129,700 contract for legal advice was awarded last month.

Details posted on the government website on Friday appear to show that the Cabinet Office awarded a contract of £ 129,700 to the law firm which hired Lord Pannick for four months of “legal advice”.

Downing Street argues that the Privileges Committee inquiry concerns the prime minister’s conduct, raising issues that have a wider consequence for all future ministers.

Legal advice for outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson was commissioned by the Cabinet Office (Chris Radburn / PA) (PA Wire)

Legal advice for outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson was commissioned by the Cabinet Office (Chris Radburn / PA) (PA Wire)

Although Mr. Johnson will be leaving Number 10 next week, the Privileges Committee is pursuing its investigation to see if he has committed contempt of Parliament by telling the House on several occasions that there have been no anti-blockade parties on Downing Street.

Lord Pannick, who previously took action against the government on Brexit in the Supreme Court, argues in the 22-page document that “the committee failed to understand that in order to feel contempt for Mr. Johnson, it is necessary to establish that it intended to mislead the House.” .

“In our opinion, the committee proposes to take an approach to substantive issues that is in principle wrong in important respects, and the committee also proposes to adopt an unfair procedure,” states its legal opinion.

“But by parliamentary privilege, a court hearing a request for judicial review filed by Mr. Johnson would declare the commission’s report unlawful.”

You would have thought Boris Johnson would have wanted to clear his name before the Privilege Committee instead of trying to intimidate him.

Chris Bryant Member of Parliament

He also suggested that the committee’s inability to make an explicit distinction that Johnson intentionally deceived MPs could have a “chilling effect” on parliamentary debate, with MPs fearful of speaking badly.

A spokesperson for the Privileges Committee earlier denied that there had been a change to the rules or terms of reference after Mr. Johnson’s allies said it only mattered if the House was deliberately deceived.

The intention of the prime minister is not relevant to deciding whether a contempt has been committed, clarified the commission.

Welsh Secretary Sir Robert Buckland has denied allegations by some of Mr Johnson’s allies that the Committee of Commons deliberately chose its terms to ensure that the Prime Minister is found guilty.

He said he would advise against the new prime minister “any suggestion that somehow the committee should be prevented or prevented from carrying out its investigation.”

However, the former secretary of justice said it was “entirely legitimate” to have a discussion about the “precise parameters” of the investigation.

Labor MP Chris Bryant, who chairs the Privilege Committee but refused to participate in the partygate inquiry, rejected the government-commissioned legal advice from Lord Pannick calling it “unfortunate bullying.”

“Lord Pannick’s bizarre” opinion “has no formal status and is wrong on several points,” he wrote in a series of tweets.

“You would have thought Boris Johnson would have wanted to clear his name before the Privilege Committee instead of trying to intimidate him.

“There is no danger of ministers being intimidated by this investigation – although it would obviously be good if they were careful that what they say to Parliament is true and accurate – as the House will always recognize an honest mistake quickly corrected.

“It is time for this shameful bullying to stop. Let’s listen and see the evidence. If Johnson has a good cause to pursue, he will be avenged. If not, he should take the punishment of him. “

Bryant noted that House of Commons trials allow ministers to correct the record if they speak badly.

The government must confess the cost of this legal advice and stop expecting taxpayers to take the bill for conservative sleaze

Lib Dem Christine Jardine

It comes when the Telegraph reported that the investigation could be “watered down” under the administration of Liz Truss, with the newspaper citing some of the foreign minister’s allies launching new attacks on the committee.

The Liberal Democrats had previously asked to know how much taxpayer money had been spent on commissioning counseling for Mr. Johnson.

Lib Dem spokeswoman Christine Jardine said, “People are tired of these costly attempts by this government to devise ways to allow Boris Johnson to escape the consequences of his actions.

“The government must confess the cost of this legal advice and stop expecting taxpayers to take account of the treason of conservatives.”

Thangam Debbonaire, shadow leader of the House of Commons, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One program: “This current Prime Minister must be able to prove – and the investigation must be free to investigate this – that he corrected the record at first. possible occasion.

“Otherwise, I’m afraid to say, it just feels like the squalor, the lies and the cover-ups that people have described as.”

Law-breaking parties in Downing Street were among the scandals that forced Mr. Johnson’s resignation as leader of the Tories.

With his refusal to rule out a political return, the commission’s investigation threatens to further tarnish his legacy and could impact his future as an MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

If it turns out he lied to Parliament, Mr. Johnson could be suspended from the House of Commons or even expelled in a by-election after a recall petition.

A spokesperson for the Privileges Committee said: “The committee takes note of the publication of Lord Pannick’s advice regarding his current investigation. The committee will meet in due course to examine Lord Pannick’s arguments in detail and when he has done so he will issue a reply. “

Lord Pannick declined to comment on his legal opinion.

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