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Month: May 2022

Sky News politics

Johnson asked by his own ethics adviser to explain why he has not broken ministerial code

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own ethics adviser has asked him to explain why he believes he has not broken the ministerial code after being fined for a lockdown breach.Lord Geidt said there was a "legitimate question" over whether the code has been broken - which would normally mean a minister would have to resign. "It may be that the prime minister considers that no such breach of his ministerial code has occurred. In that case, I believe a prime minister should respond accordingly, setting out his case in public," he added.Twenty-eight MPs now want Boris Johnson out immediately - follow latest updatesIn an exchange of letters the prime minister replied that there was "no intent to break the [COVID] regulations". Advertisement "I did not consider that the circumstances in which I received a fixed-penalty notice were contrary to the regulations," Mr Johnson replied. "I have accepted the outcome and paid it in compliance with legal requirements. Paying a fixed-penalty notice is not a criminal conviction." More on Boris Johnson Related Topics: Lord Geidt said he had repeatedly told the prime minister to publicly explain why he thought incurring a fixed-penalty notice would not be in breach of the code of conduct for ministers, but said: "That advice has not been heeded."He said the prime minister had "made not a single public reference to the ministerial code".Lord Geidt also criticised the prime minister for refusing to give him the freedom to launch his own inquiries into possible breaches and said he would still need the prime minister's consent before proceeding.Last week, Mr Johnson was accused of watering down the ministerial code after the government said it was being updated to make clear that ministers will not necessarily have to resign for more minor violations.Instead the prime minister will have the option of imposing lesser sanctions such as "some form of public apology, remedial action or removal of ministerial salary for a period".Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said there was a "legitimate question" over whether the prime minister broke the ministerial code after he was fined over partygate."The prime minister's second ethics adviser has now threatened to quit, in the latest sign of the rampant sleaze engulfing Downing Street," she said."This is a prime minister who changed the rules while being investigated for breaking those same rules. He has made himself judge and jury in his own trial, giving himself a free pass to ride rough shod over British values of decency."However much he tries to rig the rules and evade scrutiny, the prime minister has been found out and his days are numbered."Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: "This scathing criticism shows even Boris Johnson's own ethics adviser no longer trusts him to tell the truth. He is not fit to hold public office."It's no wonder the prime minister has been trying to water down the ministerial code and rewrite the rules. The only person he cares about is himself. Application of ministerial code called into question By Elizabeth Bates, political correspondent The ministerial code has been in the spotlight since the Sue Gray report was released last week. It is central to upholding standards in public life and its ultimate arbiter is the prime minister – even if he is the one suspected of breaking it. But at the very moment that it is needed most, when the behaviour of those in power is under scrutiny – its application has been called in question by the government's ethics advisor Lord Geidt. He has publicly called out Boris Johnson, saying if the prime minister believes he hasn't broken it by being fined for his Downing Street birthday party he must explain why. This comes after it emerged last week that the code is set to be watered down. The convention has always been that any breaches are a resignation matter but that will now be changed to allow for minor infringements to be dealt with in other ways – an apology, for example. Like many aspects of the British political system, it only works if those in power respect it and enforce it. If they don't it becomes just a wish-list of rules that are free to be ignored. "The net really is closing in around Johnson. He's missed the boat to do the decent thing and resign, now Conservative MPs must give him the sack."It comes after 28 Tory MPs have publicly called for the prime minister to step down over the partygate scandal.A total of 41 Tory MPs have voiced their displeasure at the PM's handling of partygate, according to a Sky News tally, but 28 have actually called for him to resign.

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Sky News politics

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner receive questionnaires from Durham police over 'beergate'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner have both received questionnaires from Durham Constabulary in relation to a potential breach of lockdown rules in April 2021. Sir Keir has come under pressure over an event in Durham in April 2021 with party colleagues when he was filmed having a drink and a takeaway curry was ordered - dubbed 'beergate'. The Labour leader has said he will offer his resignation if he is issued a fixed penalty notice for breaking COVID rules.Twenty-eight MPs now want Boris Johnson out immediately - follow latest updatesA Labour Party spokesperson said: "Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have received questionnaires from Durham Constabulary." Advertisement Sir Keir, who has fiercely criticised Boris Johnson's rule-breaking in Downing Street, has previously said he was "absolutely clear that no laws were broken" in his case. Ms Rayner has also said no rules were broken and made a similar pledge that she would quit if fined. More from Politics At the time COVID rules banned household mixing indoors apart from working.Labour has claimed it can prove the curry and beers shared by its team were part of a long working day preparing for the Hartlepool by-election.However, Durham police opened an investigation after calls from Tory MPs for them to investigate the incident. Image: Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have both said they will resign if they receive a police fine Earlier this month, Sir Keir told Sky News: "We were in the office, we were working, we paused for something to eat, there was no party, no rules were broken and that is the long and short of it."Durham police's investigation is set to carry on at least until June, when any of the at least 15 people present could face a penalty if it is deemed they broke the law.It comes after 28 Tory MPs have publicly called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down over the partygate scandal.A total of 41 Tory MPs have voiced their displeasure at the PM's handling of partygate, according to a Sky News tally, but 28 have actually called for him to resign.And Mr Johnson's own ethics adviser has asked him to explain why he believes he has not broken the ministerial code after being fined for lockdown breaches.

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