BORIS Johnson has been found to have repeatedly lied to Parliament about Covid rule-breaking in Downing Street during lockdown, a new report has found.

The long-awaited Privileges Committee report into whether the former prime minister misled parliament was published on Thursday morning and outlines how a group of MPs found Johnson in contempt of the Commons and accuses him of an “attack on our democratic institutions”.

He has stepped down as an MP but could yet face sanctions, from both the Commons and the Conservative Party, which could hamper his continuing political ambitions.

The report said: “His personal knowledge of breaches of the rules and guidance, combined with his repeated failures pro-actively to investigate and seek authoritative assurances as to compliance issues, amount to a deliberate closing of his mind or at least reckless behaviour.

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“We find it highly unlikely that Mr Johnson having given any reflection to these matters could himself have believed the assertions he made to the House at the time when he was making them, still less that he could continue to believe them to this day.

“Someone who is repeatedly reckless and continues to deny that which is patent is a person whose conduct is sufficient to demonstrate intent.

“Many aspects of Mr Johnson’s defence are not credible: taken together, they form sufficient basis for a conclusion that he intended to mislead.”

It added: “We conclude that in deliberately misleading the House Mr Johnson committed a serious contempt.”

Johnson’s contempt was made more serious, the committee said, because the incidents in which he was found to have lied to parliament were committed while prime minister.

“There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House,” the report went on.

“He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly.”

The report also complained of a "sustained attempt, seemingly co-ordinated, to undermine the committee’s credibility and, more worryingly, that of those members serving on it". 

Johnson, the report added, made no attempts to "denounce" this campaign and the MPs said they would be publishing a separate "special report" into the matter in the future. 

Because Johnson is no longer a member of Parliament, the committee could not recommend him for suspension – though it “put on record” it would have recommended a 90-day suspension.

But the MPs who formed the committee recommended he be denied a former members’ pass – barring him from the Houses of Parliament.

MPs will be given a chance to vote on the recommendations of the report, which are expected to be endorsed by the Government. The vote is expected on Monday.

The scathing 30,000-word long report reserved some of its sharpest criticism for Johnson’s attitude to both the committee itself and its members.

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The report said: “We note that Mr Johnson does not merely criticise the fairness of the Committee’s procedures; he also attacks in very strong, indeed vitriolic, terms the integrity, honesty and honour of its members. He stated that the Committee had ‘forced him out […] anti-democratically’.”

Johnson misled the House in five separate ways, the report said.

These were:

  • Claiming Covid rules had been followed at all times on four separate occasions, with the committee arguing it was not plausible Johnson believe this
  • Failing to tell the House “about his own knowledge of the gatherings where the rules or guidance had been broken”
  • Saying he relied on “repeated reassurances” that rules had not been broken, when the committee found this could have been as few as two occasions
  • Insisting on waiting for Sue Gray’s report to be published before he could answer questions in the House, when he had “personal knowledge which he did not reveal”
  • By claiming that rules and guidance had been followed while he was present at gatherings in Number 10 when he “purported to correct the record” in May 2022

Johnson has repeatedly attacked the committee, calling it a “kangaroo court” when its findings were passed to him last week, prompting him to quit the Commons.

He launched a fresh attack on Thursday, saying: “This is rubbish. It is a lie.

“This is a dreadful day for MPs and for democracy.”

The SNP said the report's findings "underlines why Scotland needs to escape Westminster control with independence" and the party's leader in the Commons Stephen Flynn said the Government must recoup Johnson's legal fees which were funded by the taxpayer.

He told the BBC the honours list he drew up as a "disgraced former prime minister" must be "put in the bin". 

The LibDems have said Johnson should be stripped of the right to a £115,000 annual allowance available to former prime ministers to run their office. 

Mhairi Black, the SNP's deputy Westminster leader, said: "This report is utterly damning for Boris Johnson and this arrogant Tory Government – and it underlines why Scotland needs to escape Westminster control with independence.

"Johnson may have left Parliament but his toxic legacy continues – with yet another out-of-touch Tory Prime Minister imposing Brexit, cuts and attacks on devolution against Scotland's will.

"The SNP is the only party offering a real alternative with independence – and it's the only way to escape the broken Westminster system and get rid of unelected Tory governments for good."

LibDem deputy leader Daisy Cooper added: "Rishi Sunak must cut off Johnson’s ex-prime minister allowance to stop him milking the public purse for his own personal gain."