Allies of Boris Johnson including Nadine Dorries and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg have been heavily criticised for putting “improper pressure” on the Commons investigation into whether he lied to MPs over partygate.
Seven MPs and three peers were named in the privileges committee’s special report on “sustained interference” into the probe.
The group have been accused of using “unprecedented and co-ordinated pressure”, which “had significant personal impact on individual members and raised significant security concerns”.
Other senior Tories named include former cabinet minister Priti Patel and Lord Zac Goldsmith, who is a serving minister.
MPs Mark Jenkinson, Michael Fabricant, Brendan Clarke-Smith and Andrea Jenkyns are all also cited in the report for criticising the investigation with tweets and media interviews attacking the committee.
The report said they sought to influence the outcome of the inquiry, impede its work by inducing members to resign and “discredit the committee as a whole”.
It singled out Mr Rees-Mogg and Ms Dorries in particular for using their shows on GB News and TalkTV respectively to mount “the most vociferous attacks”.
It also condemned the “selective pressure brought to bear” on Tory members of the committee – pointing to an email campaign instigated by the Conservative Post website which urged them to step down.
The report said over 600 emails were sent to Conservative members of the committee within days, including ones “appearing to come from Lord Cruddas and Lord Greenhalgh” – both of whom were given peerages by Mr Johnson.
The group could be suspended from parliament if MPs approve sanctions.
The committee said the House of Commons should consider whether their actions could be considered a contempt of Parliament and what further steps to take.
The report is provisionally scheduled to be considered by MPs on July 10.
Rishi Sunak’s spokesman declined to say if he would vote in the Commons to back the report and also insisted he had confidence in Lord Goldsmith, amid growing pressure to sack him.
Speaking during a visit to Selby, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister is “too weak to deal with his MPs” and called the partygate report “further evidence of a divided party that is incapable of governing”.
He said: “You’ve got yet another story about misbehaviour by Tory MPs, and at the same time we’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
“So, at the moment you want the government to step it up, it’s sitting it out, arguing about the behaviour of their own MPs, and this is one of the main causes of the fact that we’re in this economic chaos now, and it’s families that are paying the price.”
‘I shall wear it as a badge of honour’: Johnson allies remain defiant
Mr Johnson’s allies remained defiant following the report’s publication, with one telling Sky News: “I shall wear it as a badge of honour.”
And in a tweet Michael Fabricant hit back: “Respect for the committee needs to be earned.”
Mr Rees-Mogg ignored questions about the report, which listed some of his statements as one of the “most disturbing examples” in a “campaign of interference in the work” of the committee.
When approached by reporters he said he was on his way to Church and “I would encourage you all to do the same”.
He added: “Then I shall be at the [cricket] test match, which I am looking forward to. Thank you so much.”
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Meanwhile, Mr Jenkinson said: “On publication of the previous report I said it had overreached. Prior to publication I had not referred to the committee.
“Yet in another perfect example of gross overreach, the committee use a tweet that did not refer to them and was about the media witch hunt of Boris Johnson.”
Former prime minister Mr Johnson sensationally quit his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat after the privileges committee found he had deliberately misled the House with his partygate denials.
In the run-up to the report, allies of the ex-PM had labelled the committee a “kangaroo court”, criticised the members, and accused them of bias – in particular, the Labour chair of the committee Harriet Harman.
In its findings, the committee wrote that they were “concerned” that should those “behaviours go unchallenged”, such an inquiry would be “impossible” in future.
They said they would be preparing a “special report” on those behaviours, writing: “The House must have a committee to defend its rights and privileges, and it must protect members of the House doing that duty from formal or informal attack or undermining designed to deter and prevent them from doing that duty.”
Written by: Newsroom