A top barrister has come forward to say Prime Minister Boris Johnson “did not lie to the House of Commons.”

Writing in the Spectator, Steven Barrett a leading barrister at Radcliffe Chambers who read law at Oxford and taught law at Cambridge has said “the PM did not lie to the House of Commons.”

In his article Barrister Barrett says ordinarily he would stay silent as what goes on inside the House of Commons is not for lawyers like him to adjudicate as the 1688 Bill of Rights says: ‘Freedom of Speech and Debates or Proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court’.

However, Mr Barrett says he felt compelled to address the issue during what he calls this “very interesting constitutional crisis.”

Barrister Barrett previously hit the headlines last year when he highlighted government legislation which showed Covid regulations actually never applied to Downing Street at the time of the alleged “partygate” get togethers.

According to the barrister the reason being; in the eighties “lawmakers decided that it would be better to allow the government to function during any future national pandemic without having to worry about being caught up in quarantine regulations. The thinking was that by making the government effectively exempt in law, the government could continue to function.”

Mr Barrett added in addition to the 1984 Act, there were also specific regulations that applied at the time of the alleged ‘partygate’ get togethers in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020.

The barrister says according to these rules, gatherings appeared to be allowed in all public buildings, or parts of them ‘operated by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body.’

So Mr Barrett says the Prime Minister “could not possibly have lied” by telling the house that he believed the Covid laws were followed – not unless he deliberately knew the law was against him which is impossible.

Barrister Barrett explained:

“A lie is defined in the dictionary as a factual statement that is untrue and made with intent to deceive. In the leading case of R v Lucas [1981] Q.B. 720 the courts found a lie must be ‘deliberate’.

“The PM could not possibly have lied by telling the house that he believed the Covid laws were followed – not unless he deliberately knew the law was against him. There is no way he fulfils the legal test – because no one knows today if the law is actually against him.”

So why is the law uncertain? Lord Sumption a highly distinguished lawyer and former Supreme Court Judge, told the World at One on Radio 4 that he doubted what happened would count as illegal.

Mr Barrett wrote:

“I have argued that there is a defence available in law relating to events on Crown property. It is fair to say that noted lawyer Adam Wagner and the Metropolitan Police disagree with us. It’s equally fair to say Durham Police, in refusing to investigate Starmer when he was pictured drinking a beer in lockdown, agree with us that no law was broken.”

The barrister continued:

“So when the PM addressed the house, he can’t have been lying. “

“Without legal certainty, there can never have been any lie.”

To read Barrister Steven Barrett’s full article click here.

4 COMMENTS

  1. If I where Boris I would hire a barrister to put this argument forward and contest the fine and lay to rest this ridiculous claim ,the double standards is ridiculous you have Boris fined for birthday cake yet you have the opposition leader pictured blatantly drinking beer and eating pizza with staff yet no fine how can there one rule for him and a completely different one for the PM. We all know this is retaliation from the Remainers

  2. The law is inevitably uncertain in cases like this.
    First of all, these were new rules without any case law to guide their application to practical cases and different lawyers have different opinions.
    Secondly, their rationale was to lower Covid spreading, not to prevent people from having relaxation or joy. The forbidden behaviours have nothing wrong in themselves, they are just a possible cause of Covid spreading. Those people were mandated to be in the same workplace anyway, for working purposes, so the reason for their application drops in case of work breaks.

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