Partygate investigation: Sir Patrick Vallance takes aim at Boris Johnson as he says COVID rules were ‘for everyone’ | Political news
Sir Patrick Vallance said COVID restrictions were ‘for everyone’ after Boris Johnson said lockdown leave backs were ‘absolutely essential’ and he relied on incorrect advice from Number 10 advisers .
The UK’s chief scientific adviser has become a household name during the pandemic as he stood alongside the then Prime Minister during the daily COVID briefings.
This week, Mr Johnson was questioned by MPs to the Privileges Committee as they investigate whether he misled Parliament by refusing Downing Street rallies while COVID broke its own rules.
The former leader admitted he misled the Commons with his denials, but said his claims were made in ‘good faith’ and relied on incorrect advice from his advisers.
Mr Johnson defended some of the events in question as he insisted that because they left backs to staff they were essential.
Friday, Mr Patrick he was asked what advice he would give someone if they were asked at a COVID press conference about whether a company could leave to “boost staff morale”.
The chief scientific adviser said: “I would have said that would be an answer for the Prime Minister.
“I was pretty clear, I’m public knowledge that the advice was there for everyone and everyone should follow it.”
His comments appear to be a dig at Mr Johnson, who insisted the gatherings were legal at the time, as he was questioned for three hours on Wednesday.
Mr Johnson said: “I know people across the country will look at these events and think they look like the same kind of events that we or I banned everyone else.
“I will believe until the day I die that it was my job to thank the staff for what they did, especially during a crisis like COVID, which kept coming back, which seemed endless.”
Asked about a specific event photographed in November 2020, which showed Mr Johnson’s staff giving a toast, he said: ‘I think it was absolutely essential for business purposes.
Click to subscribe to Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts
At the time, England was in another lockdown and people could only leave their homes for specific reasons, including for work if they couldn’t work from home.
Mr Johnson had made the announcement, alongside Sir Patrick, less than a month before the event in question.
What have we learned from Boris Johnson’s committee grills?
What if Boris Johnson finds out he misled MPs?
The Privileges Committee is now considering Mr Johnson’s written and oral evidence.
If they find the former prime minister misled parliament, he will recommend a sanction, which could result in a by-election for his seat.