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Boris Johnson ‘hosted friend at Chequers’ while Covid rules in place – report

A spokesman for the former prime minister said the visit was ‘entirely lawful’.

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Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie hosted a close friend at Chequers in May 2021 for an overnight stay while some Covid-19 restrictions were still in place, according to reports.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said that the visit was “entirely lawful”, after The Guardian newspaper reported that events organiser Dixie Maloney stayed at the grace and favour country residence on May 7 2021.

At that stage, indoor mixing between different households was not permitted.

Exceptions to this included gatherings “reasonably necessary” for work purposes and childcare. The Guardian cited sources suggesting that Ms Maloney was permitted to be there for childcare reasons given Ms Symonds was pregnant.

Kwasi Kwarteng resignation
Chequers in Buckinghamshire (Jacob King/PA)

Under the rules at the time, a gathering could be seen as reasonably necessary “to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person” – a definition that under the legislation included anyone pregnant.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said: “This was entirely lawful, and it was covered by relevant provisions in the Covid regulations, as The Guardian’s report makes clear.

“To suggest otherwise is totally untrue.”

There had been some speculation that Ms Maloney was involved in some of the planning behind the couple’s wedding.

In a statement to the paper, a spokesperson for her said: “Ms Maloney took her obligations under the relevant Covid restrictions very seriously. She would not have done anything at the relevant time unless she honestly believed that it was lawful to do so.

“Ms Maloney has never been formally engaged to work for either Boris or Carrie Johnson, nor has she ever held any public role, whether in government or otherwise.”

A decision last month to pass to the police concerns over events in Chequers and Downing Street, following a review of the former prime minister’s official diary, led to renewed questions for Mr Johnson and the ministers.

Entries in the former prime minister’s official diary reportedly revealed visits by friends to Chequers during the pandemic and new allegations about his behaviour in Downing Street.

Cabinet Office officials passed concerns to the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police after the new information came to light during a review by taxpayer-funded lawyers ahead of the Covid public inquiry.

Mr Johnson, who believes he is the victim of a stitch-up, ditched the Government-appointed lawyers representing him in the Covid inquiry after the referral.

It came as he awaits the verdict of the Commons Privileges Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament about the partygate scandal.

The Liberal Democrats hit out at Mr Johnson after the latest report. Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “We’re all left wondering what more it will take for Rishi Sunak to finally scrap Johnson’s taxpayer-funded legal bill.

“Almost every day of this government brings more stories of Conservative sleaze and scandal, all whilst the problems facing the country get worse and worse.”

Meanwhile, the Times newspaper reported that Rishi Sunak is expected to accept Mr Johnson’s long-awaited resignation honours list, with the paper reporting that it could be published in a matter of weeks with the current Prime Minister hoping to “clear the decks”.

It has been suggested that Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries is in line for a peerage as part of the honours list.

“We strictly do not comment on honours,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.

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