Oleg BurunovAll materialsWrite to the authorIn April, the Commons approved Labour leader Keir Starmer’s motion calling for a Privileges Committee inquiry into whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled Parliament over lockdown-breaching Downing Street parties held between 2020 and 2021. Lord David Pannick, a queen’s counsel hired by the UK government, has argued in his legal advice that a House of Commons committee probe into whether BoJo lied to MPs over “Partygate” is “unfair” and “fundamentally flawed”.Pannick, who previously voiced opposition against some No 10 actions, claimed on Friday that “in our opinion, the [Privileges] Committee is proposing to adopt an approach to the substantive issues which is wrong in principle in important respects, and the committee is also proposing to adopt an unfair procedure.”The crossbench peer also insisted that the committee had “failed to understand that to prove contempt against” outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “it is necessary to establish that he intended to mislead the House [of Commons],” namely, that he knew that what he told the House was incorrect.In an apparent nod to the government, Pannick warned that “the threat of contempt proceedings for unintentional mistakes would have a seriously chilling effect on all members.”In April, MPs voted to ask the Privileges Committee to investigate whether Johnson misled Parliament about rule-busting parties at Downing Street and whether he could be considered in contempt of parliament. BoJo’s allies slammed the committee’s inquiry as “a witch-hunt” and “a kangaroo court” after the panel announced it could rule against the PM even if he did not deliberately mislead MPs. As a result, No 10 called in Lord Pannick for a legal opinion, claiming that the committee’s probe could damage the functioning of the government. In April, Johnson offered MPs what he described as a “whole-hearted apology” over breaking his own Covid-19 restrictions, but claimed that it “did not occur” to him that the 2020 birthday gathering thrown in his honor “could amount to a breach of the rules”. He was addressing lawmakers for the first time since being fined by police earlier in April for attending the June 2020 birthday party despite the fact that large indoor gatherings were banned at the time due to the coronavirus lockdown. The “Partygate” scandal is thought to have contributed significantly to BoJo’s July 7 announcement that he would later step down as the prime minister and Conservative Party leader.