‘The PM knew exactly what he was doing’, says Labour leader
Sir Keir Starmer has blamed Boris Johnson for his harassment by a group of antivax protesters who shouted a smear about Jimmy Savile, saying the PM knowingly pedalled “a conspiracy theory of violent fascists”.
The Labour leader said Mr Johnson had used a “deliberate slur” and said there was a “link” between the prime minister’s remarks and the abuse he suffered from an angry mob on Monday.
Sir Keir told The Times: “The PM knew exactly what he was doing. It is a conspiracy theory of violent fascists that has been doing the rounds for some time.”
Mr Johnson has been condemned by MPs of all parties after his discredited claim that his rival had “failed” to prosecute notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile while he was director of public prosecutions.
On Monday evening, police escorted the Labour leader away from demonstrators outside parliament, some of whom accused him of “protecting paedophiles”.
Sir Keir said: “I have never been called a paedophile protector before. That happened yesterday for the first time in my life.
“If others want to argue that this is unconnected with precisely what the prime minister said one week before then let them make that case. But they’ll never persuade me that there is no link.”
The Labour leader added: “It’s not about me, it’s the way we conduct our politics. I don’t want to see us go down the route that this potentially takes us.”
Around a dozen Conservative have criticised Mr Johnson over his failure to withdraw or apologise for what was branded a “scurrilous accusation” against Sir Keir.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman acknowledged his original words last week in the Commons were “capable of being misconstrued” and said that was why he subsequently issued a “clarification”.
“The prime minister clarified his remarks last week to make clear he was not suggesting Keir Starmer was individually responsible for the Savile decision,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, police are considering whether to investigate the funding of the lavish refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s official Downing Street flat following a complaint by lawyers acting for the Labour Party.
In a letter to Scotland Yard, the solicitors said there was a “reasonable suspicion” that the PM had broken anti-bribery laws which the force was “duty-bound” to investigate.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed they had received the letter which was being “considered” by officers from its Central Specialist Crime Command. Downing Street denied the allegations.
Labour’s complaint follows the release last month of an exchange of WhatsApp messages between the PM and Tory donor Lord Brownlow.
They show that Mr Johnson discussed a proposal by the peer for a “Great Exhibition 2.0” at the same time as requesting his help with the £112,000 revamp of his official residence.
It comes as Downing Street staff are braced for questions from police as detectives investigating lockdown parties in No 10 begin contacting those believed to have been involved.
Scotland Yard said by the end of the week officers from Operation Hillman will have started sending out formal legal questionnaires to more than 50 individuals.
The events under investigation include a number known to have been attended by Mr Johnson, raising the prospect that he will be among those receiving a demand for answers in their inboxes.
The announcement came after the Metropolitan Police said they would be widening their inquiries to cover a quiz night in No 10 in December 2020 after a photograph emerged of Mrs Johnson and colleagues near an open bottle of sparkling wine.
In a statement the force said the questionnaire would ask for “an account and explanation of the recipient’s participation” in an event which is the subject of police inquiries.
Recipients will be advised that the questionnaire has “formal legal status” and that they were required to respond “truthfully” within seven days.