Around 17 different entries in Boris Johnson’s diary were flagged as potential Covid lockdown breaches by government lawyers, three sources familiar with events have told The Telegraph.
The new claims, which were passed to police, included gatherings at both Downing Street and Chequers, the former prime minister’s grace-and-favour country house in Buckinghamshire.
Photographs are understood to exist of some of the events in question, with the images sure to become a focus again if police choose to formally investigate the claims.
Mr Johnson’s office has said that no rules were broken at the gatherings. The former prime minister’s personal lawyers are said to have looked at the claims and made that judgment.
Earlier this month lawyers working for the Government Legal Department came across entries in Mr Johnson’s diaries which dated between June 2020 and May 2021.
The lawyers were helping the Cabinet Office with Mr Johnson’s submission to the Covid public inquiry. The information was flagged by the lawyers, elevated to Cabinet Office officials and then passed to the police.
The exact number of events which were eventually handed to the police to look at remains unclear, but three sources said it was around 17 – possibly a little higher or lower.
Little is known about the events in question. The Telegraph reported earlier this week that one was a meeting between Mr Johnson and his mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl.
The event took place in the Downing Street garden. Mrs Johnson Wahl died at the age of 79 in September 2021. She was using a wheelchair at points in the final year of her life.
A second event which was flagged is said to have involved Mr Johnson meeting TV presenter Kate Garraway, whose husband was left in a life-threatening condition after getting Covid.
Whitehall sources vehemently denied any suggestion that the two gatherings broke lockdown rules. Full details of both events are not known.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was Commons leader and Brexit secretary under Mr Johnson, has talked about his visits to Chequers during the pandemic and argued he never saw rules being broken.
Mr Rees-Mogg told GB News: “I can tell you that during that period, I went to Chequers, I was invited there with my children, entirely in accordance with the rules.
“Another senior government minister was going to come, but the prime minister cancelled him because you were only allowed to have one family present at the time.”
Both the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police were handed the diary entries. The forces are yet to announce whether they will launch an investigation into the matter.
It is possible the issue will be decided on with less urgency than last year when the Met launched an investigation into partygate, given Mr Johnson is no longer prime minister.
When the development first emerged on Tuesday, Mr Johnson’s office issued a categorical denial of wrongdoing about the events flagged by the government lawyers.
It read: “The assertion by the Cabinet Office that there have been further Covid rule breaches is totally untrue.
“No contact was made with Mr Johnson before these incorrect allegations were made both to the police and to the privileges committee. This is both bizarre and unacceptable.
“For whatever political purpose, it is plain that a last-ditch attempt is being made to lengthen the Privileges Committee investigation as it was coming to a conclusion and to undermine Mr Johnson.
“Mr Johnson’s lawyers have tonight written to the police forces involved to explain in detail why the Cabinet Office is entirely wrong in its assertions.
“The events in question were all within the rules either because they were held outdoors or came within another lawful exception. They include regular meetings with civil servants and advisers.
“Many will conclude that this has all the hallmarks of yet another politically motivated stitch up.”
A Labour MP on Thursday accused Boris Johnson allies of blocking a motion to suspend SNP MP Margaret Ferrier over Covid breaches.
Chris Bryant claimed supporters of the former prime minister feared that hitting her with a 30-day suspension would set a precedent.
The Privileges Committee has recommended the punishment after she broke lockdown rules by taking a train after testing positive during lockdown.
Mr Johnson is braced for the outcome of an investigation by the same committee into whether he misled the Commons over “Partygate”.
If it recommends a suspension of 10 sitting days or more he could face a recall petition in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Government sources insisted the vote had to be postponed because not enough MPs were around on Thursday afternoon for Parliament to be quorate.
Allies of Mr Johnson told The Telegraph they were unaware that the motion to suspend Ms Ferrier had been tabled.
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