The Weekly Round-up: Misleading Parliament, unrest in France, and the Met review
29 March 2023
In the news
On Wednesday, Boris Johnson gave oral evidence to the Privileges Committee as part of an ongoing inquiry into whether the ex-Prime Minister misled Parliament over lockdown parties in No 10. If the Commons was misled, the Committee will determine whether that constituted a contempt of Parliament – a finding which could result in Mr Johnson’s suspension from the Commons. In his evidence, Mr Johnson accepted he mislead MPs, but that he had not done so “intentionally or recklessly”. He claimed his statements were based upon honest belief, and were made in ‘good faith’ and in reliance on ‘trusted advisers’. The outcome of the inquiry will largely rest on whether Mr Johnson inadvertently, deliberately, or recklessly mislead Parliament – with the most severe sanctions arising if he is found to have deliberately made false statements to MPs. The committee’s report is expected later in the year.
Baroness Casey’s final report on the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service was published this week. The review was commissioned following the death of Sarah Everard at the hands of a serving Met officer. The report describes a culture in the Met of ‘defensiveness and denial’, which lacks integrity, fails to take complainants seriously and has discrimination ‘baked into it’. In Baroness Casey’s own words: ‘we have found institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia in the Met’. This report, alongside tragic events like Ms Everard’s death and the recent conviction of long-serving Met officer David Carrick, highlight a loss of public confidence in the police force.
In France on Thursday, protesters gathered across the country to demonstrate their opposition to President Macron’s pension reform bill, which proposes raising the age of retirement from 62 to 64. The protests began in January, but escalated this week when President Macron forced the proposed bill through parliament without a vote in the National Assembly. It is estimated that approximately one million people took part in the demonstrations. In Bordeaux, the front door of the city’s town hall was set on fire and police have been accused of using excessive force against protesters. Before the bill becomes legislation, it must pass a review by the Constitutional Council.
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