Johnson may have breached ministerial code, adviser says

  • Lord Geidt, the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, has warned that Boris Johnson may have breached the Ministerial Code.
  • Geidt says Johnson must explain how the fine he received from the Met Police did not breach the Ministerial Code’s requirement to comply with the law.
  • Geidt raised concerns that Johnson did not refer to the Ministerial Code when explaining his own conduct.

Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser has said the Prime Minister must explain how he did not breach the Ministerial Code’s obligation to comply with the law by being fined by the police.

In its annual report published Tuesday eveningLord Geidt, the independent adviser for ministers’ interests, said there was a ‘legitimate question’ whether the notice of fixed fine issued to Johnson by the Metropolitan Police showed a breach of the Ministerial Code.

Johnson was fined £50 by police for attending a party to mark his birthday in breach of coronavirus lockdown rules. Photographs of the party were published by Sue Gray in her report on a number of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Geidt criticized Johnson for not referring to the departmental code in his explanations of his conduct since Gray’s report was released. Geidt said his advice, which he had been “assured had been conveyed to the prime minister”, was that Johnson “should be prepared to comment publicly on his obligations under the ministerial decision”.

Johnson’s failure to do so, Geidt suggested, could make it “particularly difficult” to inspire confidence in the Ministerial Code. Geidt said Johnson, and all other ministers in a similar situation, should explain to parliament and the public how their behavior is up to the code, or acknowledge and explain why they failed to meet its standards.

Boris Johnson holding a beer in the Cabinet Room to celebrate his birthday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘unknowingly’ broke coronavirus regulations ‘with no intention of breaking the law’ during a rally in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street on the Prime Minister’s birthday.

British government

In a letter to Geidt, also released on Tuesday, Johnson said the couple spoke out on Tuesday. Johnson said Geidt confirmed that he did not directly raise his desire for Johnson to make a public comment on the code.

“Nevertheless, I understand your frustration that there was a breakdown in communication between our offices, so I was unaware of the weight you place on the lack of an explicit reference to the Ministerial Code,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson said his fine was not a criminal conviction or a violation of the Code because he “unknowingly” broke the law by attending his own birthday party with “no intention to break the law.”

Johnson said he had made a correction to his statements made in Parliament that no rules had been broken. Johnson said the correction complied with the Departmental Code.


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