NEW: Privileges Committee Rejects Lord Pannick’s Criticisms of Boris Stitch-Up

The Privileges Committee has, unsurprisingly, rejected Lord Pannick’s damning criticism of its ongoing investigation into whether Boris misled the House during Partygate. Committee figures already indicated they’d reject it, and now they’ve found the legal advice to back it up…

“The Committee rejects Lord Pannick’s criticisms… The Committee accepts the view of its impartial legal advisers and the Clerks that Lord Pannick’s opinion is founded on a systemic misunderstanding of the parliamentary process and misplaced analogies with the criminal law.”

The committee’s response also makes clear that they believe Lord Pannick’s opinion that this stitch-up could have a “chilling effect on Ministerial comments in the House” to be “wholly misplaced and itself misleading.” Read the report in full below…

 

mdi-timer 26 September 2022 @ 09:34 26 Sep 2022 @ 09:34 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Privileges Committee Stitch-Up Slammed by Top Remoaner QC

Boris Johnson has won unlikely support from the high-profile, Brexit-frustrating QC Lord Pannick. It’s understood that Lord Pannick will this morning deliver a “devastating blow” to the privileges committee investigation into whether Boris misled the house – an investigation already so blatantly stitched up it carries no moral weight. Lord Pannick – who can hardly be accused of being a supporter of Boris or Brexit – is expected to argue that the committee’s desire to see the PM chucked out of the Commons could seriously muzzle ministers in future. This is the same Lord Pannick who represented Gina Miller in 2019 at the Supreme Court over the government’s prorogation attempt…

The inquiry has already been roundly slammed, not only for having changed the terms of reference from looking into whether Boris ‘deliberately misled the house’ to merely ‘misled’; there are also questions of why Speaker Lindsay Hoyle waved a magic wand to give the committee the power to trigger the recall act. The chair, Harriet Harman, has also prejudged the inquiry by tweeting that Boris did mislead the House…

Guido understands Lord Pannick’s full argument will be published in the next few hours, by lunchtime at the very latest. A Downing Street source tells The Mail “This isn’t for Boris, but for all future PMs and MPs,” “Ministers will never be able to say anything if they think they can be found in contempt by accidentally giving the wrong answer.” Pannick will also question why witnesses are being allowed to give evidence anonymously, contrary to standard court practice, with an insider source saying the advice is “absolutely devastating”…

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Bernard Jenkin Compares Nadine to a Terrorist

Every single Tory MP is spending this leadership election laughably saying they don’t want blue-on-blue attacks, almost all of whom very swiftly move onto lobbing grenades into the enemy camp. Intra-party relations will not have been helped, therefore, by Tory grandee Bernard Jenkin comparing Nadine Dorries to a terrorist on The World at One this afternoon. Asked about her comments that the Privileges Committee investigation into Boris being a “Machiavellian enquiry [sic]”, Jenkin said:

“If any member of parliament is not happy with the process that we set out in our July report… they should write to the committee with their arguments and we will be compelled to consider them.

Don’t just conduct a sort of terrorist campaign to try and discredit the committee because the privileges committee is how we self-regulate our affairs.”

Among all the other crises facing the country this summer, it looks like SW1 is set to face a mass popcorn shortage by the end of the month…

mdi-timer 9 August 2022 @ 16:00 9 Aug 2022 @ 16:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Harman’s Committee Shifts Goalposts to Stitch Up Boris By-Election

Who’d have thought it: appointing a Boris-hating Labour MP to chair the investigation into the PM over whether he misled the House – someone who’d already decided the outcome of the inquiry when Tweeting Boris had done so – looks like it may result in a politically-motivated stitch-up designed to humiliate the beleaguered PM further, and force him out of Parliament. Yesterday evening it emerged Harman’s Privileges Committee has quietly changed the terms of their investigation.

Publishing advice from the Clerk of the Journals on the definition of a contempt, the Committee now says “that while “much of the commentary has focussed on whether Mr Johnson “deliberately” or “knowingly” misled the Committee”, “this wording is not in the motion”.” A major blow to the PM’s defence that it was his understanding no rules were broken, that he ducked out of the leaving do’s he attended early before they became parties, and that he did not therefore knowingly mislead the house. 

“It will be for the Committee to decide, on the basis of its assessment of the evidence, whether, in the circumstances in which they were made, Mr Johnson’s statements “amounted to misleading the House”. It is possible that in making that decision the Committee may expressly or implicitly come to a view as to whether the Ministerial Code was breached, but that is not the question before it.”

While the Committee will now disregard the PM’s intent, the Clerk’s report does say that can feed into deciding a sanction. This is all, in the understated words of The Telegraph, “a departure from precedent”…

It seems the Speaker’s also got in on the act of changing rules. The Privileges Committee’s announcement yesterday said Hoyle has ruled that “any suspension of the requisite length (10 sitting days or 14 calendar days) ) following on from a report from that Committee will attract the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act”. Previously only recommendations of suspension from the Standards Committee would apply the recall act. Now the PM faces a by-election being forced by Harman. Tory MPs are now having to fight back on his behalf, launching a petition to scrap the investigation altogether in light of his resignation…

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Truss Rejects Downing Street’s “Kangaroo Court” Privileges Committee Claims

Following the Privileges Committee’s investigation launch, this morning the Telegraph splashes with Downing Street’s pushback operation, claiming Boris faces a “kangaroo court” under Harman’s biased leadership of the probe. Something Guido’s had his doubts about as well…

No such doubts for the Foreign Secretary though. Appearing on the Today Programme, Liz Truss insisted she trusts the Committee “implicitly“, and rejected claims Harriet Harman’s involvement would prejudice the investigation:

“I believe that I trust the Privileges Committee to look at the evidence properly and make the judgement appropriately. And we need to allow that process to continue… I trust implicitly my parliamentary colleagues to listen properly to the evidence and make the right decision.”

Asked directly on Sky News if Harman’s leadership was an issue, Truss simply said she “doesn’t see a problem” with it…

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Harman Unfit for Quasi-Judicial Privileges Committee Chairmanship

Guido’s already covered the irony-come-hypocrisy of Labour appointing Harriet Harman – a woman who herself received multiple Fixed Penalty Notices as a minister – to lead the investigation into whether Boris misled the house. Christopher Hope reckons she might be a poor pick for natural justice reasons. The chair vacancy originally arose when Chris Bryant acknowledged that, given he’d already made a number of anti-Boris statements in the media and the committee’s findings would have been completely compromised:

“However, it is also important that the House be seen to proceed fairly without any imputation of unfairness and that the whole House have confidence in the Committee of Privilege’s proceedings.”

It’s now emerged his replacement, Harman, has not been neutral on the question up until this point either. She has tweeted her views relating to allegations around the PM’s truthfulness, with one saying “If PM and CX admit guilt, accepting that police right that they breached regs, then they are also admitting that they misled the House of Commons”. You wouldn’t favour your chances going to trial if the judge was on the record with such levels of preconceived bias…

Yesterday in the Commons, Andrew Murrison asked Michael Ellis whether he agreed “that those placed in a position of judgment over others must not have a previously stated position on the matter in question”. The Cabinet Office minister replied:

“It is, of course, an age-old principle of natural justice that no person should be a judge in their own court.

Where an individual has given a view on the guilt or innocence of any person, they ought not to then sit in judgment on that person. I know that point he is referring to, and I have no doubt that the right honourable lady will consider that.”

It seems to be yet another own goal by Labour, mind-made-up Harman’s appointment totally undermines the impartiality of the privileges committee investigation…

mdi-timer 17 June 2022 @ 09:11 17 Jun 2022 @ 09:11 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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