Boris Johnson 'caught out' by photos which show he 'lied to Parliament' with party denials

ITV News Politics Correspondent Carl Dinnen heard what Westminster and the public had to say about the photos

Boris Johnson has been accused of "repeatedly" lying to Parliament after ITV News released a series of photographs showing him drinking with colleagues at a time when coronavirus rules banned most socialising.

The four images of the prime minister appearing to give a speech with a drink in hand cast fresh doubts over his denial that the event took place - and the police decision not to fine him over the November 13, 2020 event.

Mr Johnson had imposed England's second national lockdown just eight days before the event, banning people from socialising indoors with people outside their household.

He was asked specifically about the event on December 8, telling Labour MP Catherine West in the Commons that, "no" there had not been a gathering on that date, adding: "I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times."

December 8, 2021: Boris Johnson denies party took place:

But social media users said Mr Johnson had been "caught out" by the photographs, which many people said proved him to be a liar.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, who herself is under police investigation along with party leader Sir Keir Starmer for an alleged Covid breach last year, renewed her calls for the prime minister to resign.

She said: "Boris Johnson said repeatedly that he knew nothing about law-breaking - there's no doubt now, he lied. Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them.

"The prime minister has demeaned his office. The British people deserve better. While Labour has a plan for tackling the cost-of-living crisis, Tory MPs are too busy defending the indefensible actions of Boris Johnson."

Veteran Tory MP Roger Gale, who has been an outspoken critic of Mr Johnson's throughout the partygate scandal, labelled the new photos "damning".

He was the first Tory MP to call for Mr Johnson to resign on Monday, saying: "The war in Ukraine is incredibly serious, but I fear it’s going to turn into a war of attrition. I said some weeks ago that now is not the time to change the prime minister, but I think that moment has passed.

"We now are in a position where we face a cost of living crisis and an ongoing war. We need to have the right leader to take us through all of that."

Tory MP Roger Gale explains why he thinks the Ukraine war isn't a reason for Mr Johnson to stay in office

Meanwhile, Wycombe's Conservative MP Steve Baker tweeted an old government advert encouraging people not to break Covid rules during lockdown.

ITV News' UK Editor Paul Brand commented: "The implication of Steve Baker's tweet is not intended to be subtle here... remember he called for the PM to go earlier this year."

Wellingborough's Peter Bone was one of the first Tory MPs to publicly defend Mr Johnson on Monday, telling ITV News: "What does a photograph prove? It doesn’t prove anything. The Metropolitan Police have said he’s innocent."

'What I've seen is a pixelated photo of the PM': Fellow Tory Peter Bone denies the images demonstrate rule-breaking

The Met Police's investigation, however, has come under intense criticism on Monday. Many are questioning its decision to not fine Mr Johnson over the gathering, given the rules at the time banned indoor household mixing.

Officers did investigate this party, however apparently decided not to fine Mr Johnson for attending despite one photograph showing him with seven other people.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been urged to investigate why the PM was not fined for the event, with the Lib Dems saying it is "hard to understand" why Mr Johnson was not fined.

Some of those who attended the November 13 bash, according to ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston, raised questions as to why Mr Johnson escaped sanction.

The Met Police's own Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick offered an explanation, telling LBC he thought "the Met may not have investigated this as thoroughly as they could have done because they didn't want to upset Number 10".

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.

"The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the prime minister will address Parliament in full."

Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined for attending Mr Johnson's 56th birthday party in June 2020, despite sources claiming he was at other gatherings much more likely to have broken the rules.

Mr Johnson may have emerged from the Met's partygate investigation with just one fine but will have been anticipating further criticism in the long-awaited Sue Gray report into Downing Street parties.

Earlier, before the photos were released, Number 10 admitted it requested a meeting between Mr Johnson and Ms Gray - the civil servant investigating allegations of law-breaking against the PM and government staff.

The prime minister declined to give details of the highly controversial meeting, which is being heavily criticsed for the "secret" nature in which it was held - with people suggesting it could have influenced the partygate report while it was still being finalised.

Mr Johnson has insisted the report will remain independent, despite the meeting, amid claims of a "stitch-up" between the government and Ms Gray.

He said Ms Gray was "of course" able to act independently but added: "I'm not going to give any running commentary on her report until we get it."

The photographs published by ITV News pile additional pressure on Mr Johnson ahead of the report's publication, which is expected either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said the images show Mr Johnson "has taken the British people for fools" as she called for Tories to remove him from office.

"It's becoming clearer than ever that Boris Johnson lied to the British people and to Parliament."

The Commons Privileges Committee is due to investigate whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament with his denials of rule-breaking.

Intentionally misleading the House would normally be a resigning matter, according to the ministerial code.

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