A combative Boris Johnson fought for his political career on Wednesday, as the former British prime minister said "hand on heart" he did not lie to parliament over COVID-19 lockdown parties at a hearing with lawmakers.
Parliament's Committee of Privileges is investigating whether Johnson, who was ousted from Downing Street in September, intentionally or recklessly misled the House of Commons in a series of statements, where he said no rules were broken in the gatherings.
If the committee finds Johnson deliberately misled lawmakers, then he could be suspended. Any suspension longer than 10 days could prompt an election to remove him from his parliamentary seat and end his political career.
The former leader, who considered an audacious bid for a second stint as prime minister last year, launched a lengthy defence at the hearing, saying statements he made to parliament had been done in good faith.
"I'm here to say to you, hand on heart, that I did not lie to the House," said Johnson, who has accused the committee of bias. "When those statements were made, they were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time."
The so-called partygate scandal contributed to the ultimate downfall of Johnson, after months of reports that he, alongside other senior government figures, had been present at gatherings in Downing Street during 2020 and 2021 when much of the rest of Britain was forced to stay at home.
Johnson was fined by police for attending an event to celebrate his birthday in Downing Street in June 2020, making him the first prime minister found to have broken the law while in office. Some 126 fines were issued over the gatherings.
The outcry and repeated accusations of lying over the parties eventually prompted the resignations of most of his top team of government ministers, including the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who was among those fined.