EVIDENCE strongly suggests breaches of coronavirus rules would have been “obvious” to Boris Johnson during partygate, the inquiry into whether he lied to MPs has said.

The cross-party Privileges Committee said the Commons may have been misled multiple times as they set up a live showdown with the former prime minister for later this month.

Johnson released a statement claiming the inquiry’s interim report showed he was being “vindicated” as he raised concern about investigator Sue Gray’s move to Sir Keir Starmer’s office.

READ MORE: Johnson allies furious as partygate’s Sue Gray plans to join Starmer office

But the committee said: “The evidence strongly suggests that breaches of guidance would have been obvious to Mr Johnson at the time he was at the gatherings.

“There is evidence that those who were advising Mr Johnson about what to say to the press and in the House were themselves struggling to contend that some gatherings were within the rules.”

The Privileges Committee said it will consider why Johnson told MPs that no guidance had been broken “when he knew what the guidance was and was in attendance at gatherings where the guidance was breached”.

It will examine claims by the then-prime minister in December 2021 that “all guidance was followed completely in No. 10” and “the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times”.

The committee will also look into “why he failed to tell the House about the gatherings at which he had been present”.

Additionally, the Privileges Committee said its inquiry was “initially held up by a reluctance on the part of the Government to provide unredacted evidence”.

It said that after requesting “relevant materials” on July 14 last year, the committee received on August 24 “documents which were so heavily redacted as to render them devoid of any evidential value”.

“Some material had been redacted even though it was already in the public domain,” according to the report.

The unredacted disclosure of all relevant material was finally provided by Rishi Sunak’s Government on November 18.

The National:

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Privileges Committee said: “The committee’s report is not based on the Sue Gray report.

“The committee’s report is based on evidence in the form of:

– material supplied by the Government to the committee in November, including communications such as WhatsApps, emails and photographs from the official Downing Street photographer.

– evidence from witnesses who were present either at the time of the gatherings or at the time of preparation for Boris Johnson’s statements to parliament.

“Sue Gray was present at neither and is not one of those witnesses.”

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