Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”Lord Pannick is an especially eminent QC who is not politically aligned to the Prime Minister, which makes his opinion all the more powerful. I hope this will put pressure on the committee to do its job properly.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Daily Mail

Facts

Jacob Rees-Mogg made this remark following claims by the eminent legal expert Lord Pannick that the inquiry into whether Boris Johnson committed contempt of Parliament is being conducted by an “unfair procedure” which would be ruled “unlawful” by courts.

Successful barristers are today known as King’s Counsel (KC). When Rees-Mogg made his remark the Queen was still alive.

No 10 spent £130,000 of public money seeking legal advice (including from Lord Pannick KC) on the Partygate inquiry by the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges. Lord Pannick said that the inquiry was “unfair” and “fundamentally flawed” as well as “wrong in principle”. 

He said that were the inquiry not protected from court challenge by parliamentary privilege, the “approach taken by the committee” would be found “unlawful” by a judicial review.

KCs have no authority to offer verdicts on whether an MP has acted in contempt of Parliament.

Verdict

Only Parliament can decide whether an MP has acted in contempt of Parliament. It is surprising that  Jacob Rees-Mogg – such a stickler for such niceties and a former leader of the Commons to boot- did not know this. 

We emailed Mr Rees-Mogg’s office offering him the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply. 

Additional Note: We approached Lord Pannick for comment on the above. He replied: “Since you ask, I was not paid £130,000 to give legal advice. The solicitors, Peters and Peters, were apparently paid that sum for all their work for Mr Johnson in relation to the Committee’s Inquiry, including payments out to others such as me for giving my opinion.” We amended our wording accordingly in light of his response.

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