PM’s communications lead blamed other aides for sexist environment
An ITV documentary aired on Thursday, Tonight: Boris Johnson: The Rise and Fall, included allegations that Mr Johnson brought with him to Downing Street “a very masculine culture … you know, lads down the pub.”
The anonymous source, said to have worked in Downing Street, added, “If you were a female in that sort of zone, it’s actually quite uncomfortable to work in.”
ITV reported that in response to the allegations Mr Johnson’s director of communications, Guto Harri, said the outgoing prime minister “carried the can for the bad behaviour of others”.
Mr Harri said: “Previous aides who have devoted their lives to bringing down the PM did indeed preside over a nasty, misogynist culture.
“Downing Street has been a much better place without them.”
The key aide, who previously worked for Mr Johnson as London mayor before being brought into Downing Street in February, also reportedly said: “The vast majority of the press office are women, roughly half the private office and indeed most of the main teams in No10.”
ITV said no aides were mentioned by name in the claims but of the aides apporached for the programme, none responded.
Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s former top aide, mocked Mr Harri’s defence, writing on Twitter: “Ah yes, [Mr Johnson], the true victim, famous for selflessly ‘carrying the can for the bad behaviour of others’ [laughing face emoji].”
He added: “As one young woman forced out by [Mr Johnson] said, ‘he just stares at our t***’.”
Mr Johnson has previously been under scrutiny for sexist behaviour. When former Downing Street press secretary Allegra Stratton was asked last year about sexist comments made by Mr Johnson in his journalism days, such as referring to women as “hot totty”, she said he would describe himself as a “feminist”.
The source in the ITV documentary made further claims about Mr Johnson’s time in No 10.
The prime minister, he said, “was completely disorganised. He would never read his notes.”
He claimed: “First thing in the morning Boris Johnson would turn up two hours late. His hair would be wet. He’d have like his zip undone or his shirt hanging out. He’d be just a complete mess all the time.”
He also claimed there were “way more” parties in Downing Street during lockdown than came to light in the Sue Gray report.
“I think the prime minister himself had a few more than what has been reported, privately in his flat as well,” he said.
Mr Johnson was issued a Fixed Penalty Notice by police for attending a gathering in No 10 for his birthday in May 2020.