Bernard Jenkin is silent FIVE DAYS on from Covid party breach claims
Bernard Jenkin is still silent FIVE days on from claims he went to lockdown-busting drinks party as report is filed to police
- Tory grandee Sir Bernard Jenkin has stayed silent since allegations first emerged
- The MP for Harwich and North Essex is understood to deny breaking Covid rules
Five days after claims were aired that he attended a lockdown-busting drinks party, one of Boris Johnson’s leading Partygate inquisitors is maintaining his silence.
It came as a leaked invitation to the gathering in December 2020 demolished claims that it was a ‘work event’.
Tory grandee Sir Bernard Jenkin is understood to deny breaking any Covid-19 rules by attending the Commons gathering when restrictions were in place.
An ‘ally’ said he insisted it was a ‘work event’ held by senior figures in the Women2Win network, which encourages more Tory women to stand for political office.
The ally claimed that Sir Bernard simply ‘arrived to collect his wife’ – something disputed by sources with knowledge of the gathering.
Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin (pictured) has stayed silent following claims he attended a lockdown-busting drinks party in December 2020
A WhatsApp invitation which emerged yesterday that was sent by his wife, Tory peer Baroness Jenkin, explicitly invited her ‘favourite people’ to a ‘birthday drinks’ bash.
One of those who witnessed the gathering taking place has confirmed to the Mail that a report has been filed to the police and the Commons authorities.
According to the source, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle confirmed receipt of the allegations.
It is understood the report given to the police contains a list of those present, which included Sir Bernard and Baroness Jenkin, as well as Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing.
The list provided to the police includes a further four MPs and one member of the Lords, but the Mail understands others were also present whose identities have not yet been confirmed.
Sir Bernard was the most senior Conservative on the Commons privileges committee, which last week condemned Mr Johnson for misleading Parliament over gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic when he was in office.
The event Sir Bernard attended was in Dame Eleanor’s office on December 8, 2020, when indoor socialising was banned in England.
In her invitation, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, Baroness Jenkin offered ‘birthday drinks’ for ‘a few of our favourite people next Wednesday 8th, 6.30 to 7.30 in Eleanor Laing’s conference room in [the] Commons’. The message concluded ‘x Anne.’
Sir Bernard was the most senior Conservative on the Commons privileges committee, which last week condemned Boris Johnson (pictured) for misleading Parliament over gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic when he was in office.
Although the invitation said the drinks would be ‘v small and socially distanced’, insiders say at least ten people were in the room throughout, preventing effective social distancing. One source claimed that social distancing rules ‘went out of the window’.
One ally of Mr Johnson said: ‘Bernard Jenkin appears to have attended an unlawful social event.
If so, he has withheld this crucial information from Parliament while sitting in judgment over Boris Johnson for more than a year.
This revelation invalidates the findings of the privileges committee because its process has been corrupted.
Sir Bernard’s entire case was that Boris ‘must have known’ he was attending an allegedly illegal gathering.
‘Well, clearly Sir Bernard must have known he was attending one too. This matter must be investigated by Parliament immediately.’
A source with knowledge of the gathering added: ‘He [Sir Bernard] was there at the start and for the whole thing. Drinking.’
Deputy speaker Dame Eleanor Laing (pictured) is understood to have been invited to the rule-breaking drinks party
Sir Bernard and Dame Eleanor did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Scotland Yard has said it is ‘assessing’ reports that the event broke lockdown rules.
Speaking briefly to the Guido Fawkes website last week, when details of the event first emerged, Sir Bernard said: ‘I did not attend any drinks parties during lockdown.’
Asked to confirm whether he had drunk anything at his wife’s party, he replied: ‘I don’t recall.’ He has remained silent since.
Dame Eleanor insisted to the Guido Fawkes website last Wednesday that it was a ‘business meeting’.
When asked if any drinks were served, she said: ‘I don’t know. I will have to check.’
Mr Johnson, who branded the inquiry into his conduct a ‘witch-hunt’, told the committee Sir Bernard should have recused himself as he could not be considered ‘a valid judge or investigator’.
The seven MPs on the privileges committee found that Mr Johnson committed ‘repeated contempts’ of Parliament, and effectively ended his career in the Commons by recommending he be suspended for 90 days.
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