August 9, 2022

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PMQs: Starmer accuses Johnson of ‘feeding off division’ as rail strikes loom

Boris Johnson has defended assembly a former KGB agent at an Italian villa with none...

Boris Johnson has defended assembly a former KGB agent at an Italian villa with none authorities officers current.

The prime minister mentioned no official enterprise was mentioned “so far as I’m conscious” when he met Alexander Lebedev in 2018, when he was overseas secretary.

Johnson admitted the assembly happened while appearing in entrance of the liaison committee earlier this month.

In a letter to Sir Bernard Jenkin, the committee’s chairman, giving extra particulars on the go to, he mentioned he had been attending a “social occasion” organised by Evgeny Lebedev at his house in Italy.

On the time, the Lebedevs owned the Night Normal and the Impartial newspapers.

The PM mentioned: “At this social occasion, I additionally met Evgeny Lebedev’s father. This was not a proper assembly, nor one thing that was pre-arranged.”

He mentioned his officers had been “conscious prematurely” concerning the occasion and it was common for them to not accompany him.

He mentioned: “Opposite to some stories, my go to was in keeping with established safety protocols underneath successive overseas secretaries.

“It could not have been regular apply for civil servants or safety workers to have accompanied me to such a non-public, social event. I didn’t take ministerial papers with me.”

Johnson mentioned if ministers talk about official enterprise with an exterior organisation or particular person with none officers current, they’d be anticipated to tell them afterwards.

“This was not crucial on this case,” he mentioned. “So far as I’m conscious, no authorities enterprise was mentioned.”

Johnson has also faced accusations that he ignored safety issues to offer Evgeny Lebedev a peerage.

Requested concerning the allegations in March, he mentioned: “That’s merely incorrect. However what I can let you know is, it fits Putin’s agenda to attempt to characterise this as a wrestle between the West and Russia.

“It fits his agenda to say that the UK, that we in Nato nations, are anti-Russia, European nations are actually anti-Russian.