Privileges committee will not let ex-PM publish his counsel’s legal advice
Thank you for an interesting piece.
While I agree Pannick’s further views should be made available, given the release of previous opinions, the essential issue seems fairly straightforward in that the Resolution is the guiding element and makes no reference to intention, whatever may have been said during the debate. Ryder must surely be correct on the initial question although intention will be very relevant to the question of what sanction to apply if contempt is made out. It follows intention will need to be explored (but only for this secondary purpose)
Especially now that I have read “Chums” by Simon Kuper where he excoriates the “decadent and deeply unprofessional ruling class” (review by Hugo Rifkind of The Times) ,I have to declare an interest, bias- call it what you will - where I consider Boris Johnson unfit to occupy ANY government post, let alone that of Secretary of State or P.M.
I am more than ready to believe that on the issue(s) before the Committee Johnson misled (or attempted to mislead) the Commons either intentionally or recklessly. In either of those cases, I would hope and expect that he would be found in contempt. Is “recklessly” as a “second limb” adverb not a fair test?
Is there not scope for the earliest feasible statement to the Commons declaring an honest mistake to be accompanied naturally by an apology for the misleading statement, with its honesty and promptitude or otherwise adjudged on the evidence to an appropriate standard of proof? That MIGHT in those circumstances fairly avoid a finding of contempt. Should that standard be on a balance of probabilities rather than to the more rigorous criminal standard? I would be ready to argue for the former.
That once said, I am certainly puzzled by the Committee’s refusal to publish Pannick’s further advice. Leaving aside any customary practices of the Committee in holding back on so doing ,the report of its existence in the Daily Mail and as we must hope rather than assume its accuracy should as I see it lead to a case for its publication now by the Committee.