“At all times he set out his understanding of events"

Prime Minister’s Spokesperson

March 29, 2022

Facts

Downing Street has denied Mr Johnson misled the House of Commons when he told MPs that the Covid regulations had not been broken in No 10, referring to Partygate. 

"At all times he has set out his understanding of events," the PM's official spokesperson said.

 Verdict

Careful phrasing from the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson. The spokesperson is not saying that Boris Johnson told the truth when he informed MPs that the Covid regulations had not been broken in No 10. He is saying that he believed he was telling the truth: “At all times he set out his understanding of events." 

Remember: a lie must be uttered with intent to deceive. Otherwise, it is not a lie. Only someone with intimate knowledge of the workings of Boris Johnson’s mind could say for sure whether he was lying or not.

Nevertheless, it can be stated with total confidence that Boris Johnson misled the Commons when he told MPs that “All guidance was followed completely in No. 10”. Under Commons rules he is obliged to return to the Commons and correct the record. 

 The defence of Johnson here can be compared to Tony Blair's defence of his false claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction: “I only know what I believe.” 

We approached Downing Street to give them a chance to comment, but received no response.

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