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British lawmakers approved an investigation into whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament about parties at his offices at Downing Street that violated pandemic lockdown rules, BBC reported.
The probe is part of the “Partygate” scandal that has embroiled the prime minister and other officials for holding gatherings – including a “bring your own booze” garden party and Christmas parties – while the government was imposing a strict lockdown that limited contact.
After the parties were first uncovered, Johnson told Parliament in December that “the rules were followed at all times” and that “no party and that no covid rules were broken.”
But separate investigations by London’s Metropolitan Police and others have already found violations. Last week, police officials determined that the rules were broken and fined Johnson, his wife and other officials – making him the first serving prime minister found to have broken the law.
Johnson apologized and paid the fine but denied that he had lied to Parliament.
The contempt probe will begin after the Metropolitan Police finalizes its investigation. If Parliament decides that Johnson willfully misled lawmakers, he could be suspended, expelled or forced to resign.
Johnson has dismissed previous calls to step down over the scandal. Analysts added that while many Conservatives are unhappy with his leadership, it’s unclear whether they intend to oust him.