The Government’s top legal adviser has refused to disclose whether she approved Boris Johnson’s initial denials over Downing Street party allegations.
Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, told MPs the law officers’ convention prevented her from commenting on the “fact or content” of any legal advice provided to members of the Government.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Labour MP Dan Carden (Liverpool Walton) said: “On the morning of December 8 the Attorney General went to Downing Street to advise the Prime Minister after the emergence of the now infamous video of staff in Downing Street joking about parties.
I'm prevented from commenting on the fact or content of any legal advice provided by law officers to members of the GovernmentSuella Braverman
“That lunchtime the Prime Minister came to this chamber to say that no parties had taken place in Downing Street and that no Covid rules had been broken.
“Did the Attorney General approve of those comments, and if so was she colluding with the Prime Minister or did he mislead her?”
Ms Braverman replied: “(Mr Carden) makes a valiant attempt, but he should be aware of the law officers’ convention… that I’m prevented from commenting on the fact or content of any legal advice provided by law officers to members of the Government.”
On December 8, the Prime Minister apologised after footage emerged showing Number 10 advisers joking about a Downing Street Christmas party during the coronavirus lockdown.
He went on to say he had been “repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”.
She mentions the rule of law and I would just say fundamental to the rule of law is also democracy, and I'm very proud to be supporting this Prime Minister - a Prime Minister who has honoured democracy by delivering Brexit, a Prime Minister who is now leading not just the UK but the world in beating CovidSuella Braverman
The Prime Minister is expected to be among more than 50 individuals in No 10 and Whitehall who will receive legal questionnaires from Metropolitan Police officers investigating events in Downing Street.
Labour MP Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) said: “From their early work of prorogation to daily revelations now about these lockdown-busting parties, this Government has had its fair few brushes with the rule of law.
“I know she can’t comment on an ongoing criminal investigation, but I wondered if the Attorney General could tell us that if, when this investigation is concluded, all the 50 email questionnaires come back, anyone who is found to have breached lockdown regulations, whatever their rank, can she confirm that they will face the same consequences as Joe Public did?
“And further to (Mr Carden’s) question, if there’s breaches of the ministerial code, will there be resignations?”
Ms Braverman replied: “The Prime Minister has made his position clear, I’m not going to add any more in light of the live police investigation.
“She mentions the rule of law and I would just say fundamental to the rule of law is also democracy, and I’m very proud to be supporting this Prime Minister – a Prime Minister who has honoured democracy by delivering Brexit, a Prime Minister who is now leading not just the UK but the world in beating Covid.”
She went on to claim Labour would have “cancelled Brexit” if the party was in power.