Taxpayers to face huge bill to cover Boris Johnson’s legal fees for Partygate scandal during Covid-19 pandemic
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Taxpayers have been handed a huge bill of at least £222,000 to cover Boris Johnson’s legal fees. MPs have heard the former UK Prime Minister is defending himself against claims he misled Parliament over Partygate.
Lawyers advising Boris Johnson charged £129,700 in August 2021 but have since increased the cost by an extra £100,000. And the bill is expected to rise even more depending on how long the inquiry takes.
The committee is currently investigating whether Mr Johnson committed contempt of Parliament by telling the Commons on a number of occasions that there were no parties during Covid-19 lockdowns in Downing Street.
Boris Johnson was initially punished by receiving a fixed-penalty notice by the Metropolitan Police over various get-togethers during England’s first lockdown in May, November and December 2020, as well as April 2021. The inquiry into whether he misled parliament was launched after the Commons passed a Labour motion calling for the question to be investigated.
Peters and Peters, a solicitors firm, was awarded the contract to offer advice to Boris Johnson in a deal worth £129,700. Now the amount has since shot up to £222,000, says Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm.
Speaking to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, he explained: “At the moment we have estimated that it would be up to a figure of £200,000, which has been published – £222,000 to be precise. We hope and expect that will be a maximum figure but obviously we don’t want to anticipate and certainly could not regulate the conduct of the committee, which is entirely up to them”.
Explaining it was "normal" for the government to pay the legal fees of former ministers in matters relating to the conduct while holding the position, Mr Chisholm said the contract with Peters and Peters had received “very full scrutiny from all the relevant people”.