Partygate: Government’s bill for Boris Johnson’s legal advice tops £265,000

The sum was racked up for the former Prime Minister's defence.

Legal fees to defend Boris Johnson during the Privileges Committee probe amounted to more than £265,000, according to new figures.

Figures published by the Cabinet Office show the former prime minister’s final legal costs totalled £265,522, after it covered the bill for Mr Johnson as he defended himself during the parliamentary partygate inquiry.

Solicitors firm Peters & Peters was awarded a contract worth £129,700 in August 2022 to provide Mr Johnson with advice during the investigation, although later Cabinet Office estimates had put the costs as at least £222,000.

The cross-party Privileges Committee ultimately found that Mr Johnson lied to Parliament over lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street.

The former Conservative leader quit the Commons before the committee delivered its recommendations, which included that Mr Johnson should have faced a 90-day suspension for misleading the House and being complicit in a campaign of intimidation against the panel investigating him.

A government spokesman said: “There is an established precedent across multiple administrations based on the principle that former ministers may be supported with legal representation after they have left office when matters relate to their time and conduct as a minister.

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“The contract for the provision of legal support to the now former prime minister has been extended for a final time in accordance with the proper procurement processes.

“This is to cover previous additional work in relation to the Privileges Committee inquiry. The contract expires today and the final costs of the total legal support will not exceed this amount.”

The figure, first reported by The Guardian, sparked criticism from Labour.

Deputy party leader Angela Rayner said: “At the height of a cost of living crisis, Rishi Sunak has stood by and watched as the disgraced former prime minister milks the taxpayer to the tune of a quarter of a million pounds to prop up his partygate denials.

“This is a spineless Prime Minister, too weak to put a stop to this unprecedented and unacceptable waste of taxpayers’ money or force his predecessor to hand back taxpayers’ money.”

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