Pannick in Downing Street as Boris faces contempt charge
I am not a Boris apologist (honest! - and I have not read the advice in detail) but…
I was under the impression that the key point of the advice was that if a PM can be censured for telling stuff to Parliament what he thought to be true at the time but which later turns out to be not the case then a dangerous precedent would be set. The implication being that a PM could not say anything that might be proved wrong in the future and that would massively curtail that PM’s ability to act in the moment.
I believe this is the central issue of “contempt” as set out in your piece.
I agree that the additional stuff – essentially about the inappropriateness of constraining the enquiry - has merit.
Whether Boris did think that the claims that he made were indeed true at the time is central to the case. I get a strong impression that your argument is that Boris lied so often that it is almost a statistical reality that this is just another lie in a long list of them. A view particularly appropriate for a qualified actuary. Of course proving this beyond reasonable doubt (as you would have to in a court of law) does depend on the confidence range used. There will aways be a chance ( albeit a small one ) that Boris did not lie in this case.
I must say holding future PMs to ransom in this way is not appropriate – although identifying bare faced liars is and there is merit in encouraging PMs to get their facts right in the first place. Indeed I resigned from the labour party (both in sorrow and disgust) a while back when it became clear that Blair’s dossier on WMD was not all it was cracked up to be.
Of course if he gets censured for telling parliament porky pies – which he knew were lies at the time – that is an entirely different matter.
My general view of Boris’ demise is that it is in many ways a true “Greek” tragedy. Funnily that is not to say it is necessarily “sad” – that depends on one’s viewpoint. The man did, in my opinion, get many of the big decisions right – he did get Brexit done ( well almost 😊), he did have the foresight to order massive doses of covid vaccine (notwithstanding other mistakes in this area) and he was/still is a strong rallying point for the West’s opposition to Putin’s special military operation.
He was ultimately undone by a fatal personal flaw which could be described as a lack of attention to detail in an area which although was undoubtedly hypocritical ( and worse) directly endangered only a small number of his inner circle – pretty much all of whom were complicit. Perhaps the greater crime was indeed lying about it in the subsequent (unsuccessful) cover up attempt.
I will bow to my more classically trained friends & acquaintances on this; however, I believe that this is the true definition of tragedy. A point undoubtedly recognised by Boris himself.