Downing St probe

Boris should be on gardening leave, says Carmichael

Boris Johnson facing MPs today

More pressure was piled on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign today, with another fiery exchange at PMQs and a call for him to be put on “gardening leave”.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer outlined the rules that say ministers must resign if they mislead parliament and asked the PM if he believes these rules apply to him.

The PM replied “of course” the rules apply to him but he said he was focused on delivering the Covid recovery. He refused to be drawn further on the resignation call from Sir Keir and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, saying he could not comment while enquiries were continuing.

Earlier, Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael said Mr Johnson should be placed on gardening leave and removed from Number 10 while the Metropolitan Police investigates allegations that covid rules were broken.

The party’s Home Affairs spokesman said those under police investigation are normally placed on leave whilst the proceedings are ongoing.

This is to prevent them from attempting to prevent a fair investigation from being carried out by influencing witnesses or destroying evidence.

The LibDems said that in recent weeks it has been reported that Downing Street staff have deleted emails and texts pertaining to parties, ahead of the Sue Gray report which is due imminently.

The party says that while Mr Johnson is on leave, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab would be expected to take over running the day-to-day affairs of the Government.

“Since Boris Johnson is such a fan of spending time in his garden, it’s only fitting that he be placed on gardening leave and leave Number 10 whilst the police investigate,” said Mr Carmichael. “This will ensure he cannot try and abuse his position to get himself off the hook.

“Refusing to do so will show both the Conservatives’ utter contempt for the public and erode trust in this government even further.

“This truly is a Government in chaos, and every day the story gets worse. We have a Prime Minister who is at war with his own backbenches and desperate to cling onto power.

“With Downing Street under investigation by the Metropolitan Police for numerous lockdown-breaking parties, we must ensure that this investigation can proceed unhindered so we can finally see justice served.”

Police jail warning

Mr Johnson and his fellow partygoers risk being jailed if they lie to officers investigating Partygate, police sources have warned.

Met insiders say the police may used enforcement powers including issuing search warrants and seizing phone records.  

Detectives will try to obtain any material that has been withheld from Sue Gray’s inquiry into the lockdown parties as part of the Met’s criminal investigation. 

Anyone admitting to attending an gathering is unlikely to receive anything more than a £100 fixed penalty notice, a serving Inspector told MailOnline, but providing false evidence to officers or interfering with their investigation could result in a charge of perverting the course of justice – which carries a prison sentence. 

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