The row over alleged lockdown breaches was reignited last week when the Cabinet Office passed on the new claims of events at No 10 and Chequers – the country estate of the Prime Minister – to the Met and Thames Valley Police following a review of Mr Johnson’s official diary.
The former Prime Minister describes the new claims as ‘total nonsense’ and insisted the entries in his ministerial diary – which were scrutinised as part of the official Covid inquiry – had been ‘cherry-picked’ as part of a ‘politically motivated stitch-up’.
Mr Johnson’s friends place Mr Dowden and Cabinet Office Minister Jeremy Quin at the heart of the intrigue, despite official denials that any Ministers were aware of the Cabinet Office’s move, and even suggested they could be reported for ‘wasting police time’.
Mr Johnson has already been fined by the Met for breaking lockdown rules, and is being investigated by the Commons Privileges Committee over whether he misled Parliament by denying any wrongdoing.
The committee has asked him for a response to the new material.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden should resign if he is implicated in the decision to refer fresh Partygate allegations about Boris Johnson to the police, say friends of Mr Johnson
The row over alleged lockdown breaches was reignited last week when the Cabinet Office passed on the new claims of events at No 10 and Chequers – the country estate of the Prime Minister – to the Met and Thames Valley Police following a review of Mr Johnson’s official diary
A friend of Mr Johnson told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is a political stitch-up concocted in an attempt to smear Boris and prolong the Privileges Committee. At the heart of it are Oliver Dowden and Jeremy Quin. They must publicly apologise.
‘The Cabinet Office must stop issuing statements which are based on falsehoods. It has claimed Ministers weren’t aware, but has inadvertently admitted they were. It claimed no judgment of Boris had been made, but then admitted in a letter to the Privileges Committee that such an assessment had been made by Government lawyers.
‘If Ministers are shown to have deliberately used Government legal resources for political purposes they must resign.
‘It’s now likely all their diaries will be subject to investigation by Whitehall mandarins and that they could find themselves in trouble for wasting police time.’
Mr Johnson said the new claims were ‘a load of nonsense from beginning to end’. He told Sky News: ‘I think it’s ridiculous that elements in my diary should be cherry-picked and handed over to the police and to the Privileges Committee without even anybody having the basic common sense to ask me what these entries referred to. I have looked through it.
Mr Johnson said new claims of rule breaching were ‘a load of nonsense from beginning to end’
‘None of them constitute a breach of the rules.’
Tory grandee Lord Heseltine, who bitterly opposed Mr Johnson’s Brexit campaign, claimed the former PM was sitting on a ‘ticking timebomb’. Lord Heseltine said: ‘Never in my lifetime have I seen an ex-Prime Minister so nakedly and painfully on the rack to the extent that Boris Johnson is.
‘There is now a ticking timebomb under him, with legal threats and potential criminal proceedings.’
A Cabinet Office source said: ‘Ministers were not aware before the police were contacted.
‘Clearly, it would have been completely inappropriate for them to then interfere with a police matter.
‘The hope is Boris’s team publish the information to back up their claim that these gatherings were all entirely within the rules so we can all move on.’
A Whitehall source said that it was wrong for Boris allies to talk about ‘leaks’ because the Prime Minister’s diary was an official Government document.