Tory Minister implies that Harriet Harman can’t lead ‘Partygate’ inquiry fairly

Herbie Russell (17 June, 2022)

The probe is meant to establish whether Boris Johnson's 'Partygate' statements breached the ministerial code.

31615MP Harriet Harman

A senior Tory minister has implied that Labour MP Harriet Harman should not chair the upcoming ‘Partygate’ inquiry because she may not conduct the investigation fairly. 

Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, is set to lead the Commons committee investigation into whether Boris Johnson misled parliament over the Partygate scandal. 

But after tweets emerged of Harman criticising the Prime Minister over ‘Partygate’, Paymaster General Michael Ellis questioned her suitability for the role.

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Addressing the House of Commons on Thursday, June 16, he said: “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 judgement on that person.”

Harman has previously tweeted that, having received fixed penalty notices for Covid breaches, Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak should either admit guilt or challenge the fines in court. 

She also shared a blog post by ex-Labour press secretary Alastair Campbell saying Johnson had “lied repeatedly” and “trashed the minister’s code”.

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Harriet Harman has taken the role after Labour MP Chris Bryant said he couldn’t conduct the probe “without any imputation of unfairness” following his public criticism of Boris Johnson.

On the Privileges Committee, Harman will be joined by four Tory MPs, a fellow Labour MP and one from the SNP, reflecting the balance of parties in the House of Commons.

On Tuesday, June 14, the Prime Minister’s ex-ethics adviser Lord Geidt said it was “reasonable” to suggest the prime minister may have breached the ministerial code. He resigned from his role the following day.

Harriet Harman has been approached for comment.

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