Scandal after scandal: timeline of Tory sleaze under Boris Johnson

PM’s tenure has been characterised by disrepute, from lockdown breaches to serious sexual assaults

Boris Johnson’s premiership has been characterised by a string of scandals since he entered No 10 in 2019. From “Pestminster” to “Wallpapergate”, the prime minister has sought to ride out every storm during his two and a half years in charge. Here is a timeline of the sleaze so far:

25 May 2020

Dominic Cummings refuses to resign or apologise after the Guardian and Mirror reveal his lockdown-busting trips to north-east England at the height of Covid-19. Johnson stands by his chief aide despite fury from the public, MPs and scientists.

30 July 2020

Charlie Elphicke is found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women, less than a year after resigning as the Conservative MP for Dover. Elphicke had denied the three charges, two of which related to a parliamentary worker. He was later sentenced to two years in prison. His wife, Natalie Elphicke, succeeded him as MP for Dover in December 2019.

25 May 2021

Rob Roberts, the Conservative MP for Delyn in north Wales, is found by parliament’s independent expert panel to have made “significant” repeated unwanted sexual advances towards a former member of staff, as well as inappropriate comments of a sexual nature. He is suspended for 12 weeks by the Conservatives but allowed to rejoin the party in October 2021.

28 May 2021

Johnson “unwisely” embarked on a £112,000 refurbishment of his official Downing Street flat without knowing how it would be paid for, according to a report by the ethics adviser Christopher Geidt. However, it later emerges that Geidt was not given crucial text messages between Johnson and the Conservative donor David Brownlow, prompting an apology from the prime minister.

26 June 2021

Matt Hancock resigns as health secretary after it emerged he broke social distancing rules by kissing his longtime friend and close aide, Gina Coladangelo, in his ministerial office. The resignation is a huge blow to the authority of Johnson, who had stood by Hancock when the story broke 24 hours earlier.

8 July 2021

Johnson is reprimanded by parliament’s committee on standards for failing to “establish the full facts” about a free holiday to a luxury villa in Mustique. The accommodation was organised by David Ross, the Tory donor and co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, after Johnson “sought and was offered” the use of Ross’s villa, the report found.

26 October 2021

The former Tory minister Owen Paterson is found by parliament’s standards watchdog to have committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules. Paterson repeatedly lobbied the government on behalf of two companies that were paying him more than £100,000 a year, the watchdog found. The MP, who maintained his innocence, resigns as the Conservative representative for North Shropshire in November 2021. The subsequent byelection is won by the Liberal Democrats on 16 December 2021.

Owen Paterson sits in the Commons as MPs debate an amendment calling for a review of his case
Owen Paterson sits in the Commons as MPs debate an amendment calling for a review of his case after he received a six-week ban from parliament. Photograph: House of Commons/PA

10 December 2021

The former Conservative minister Andrew Griffiths is found by a high court judge to have raped his wife and subjected her to coercive control. Griffiths, who denied the allegations, had stepped down as an MP in November 2019 after a series of claims about his conduct. His wife, Kate Griffiths, who left him when the original stories broke, succeeds him as MP for Burton in Staffordshire.

18 December 2021

Simon Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, steps down from chairing the investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street after claims emerged he had hosted an event himself over the same period. The senior civil servant Sue Gray takes over.

6 January 2022

Johnson is revealed to have sought funds to help cover a £112,000 makeover of his Downing Street flat from a Conservative donor while promising to consider plans for a “great exhibition”. Labour accuses the prime minister of corruption, while Johnson apologises for failing to disclose crucial WhatsApp messages to his ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, the previous spring.

2 April 2022

David Warburton, the Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome, is suspended from the Tory parliamentary party after a series of allegations relating to sexual harassment and cocaine use. A investigation by Westminster’s independent complaints and grievance scheme is ongoing as of 1 July.

11 April 2022

Imran Ahmad Khan, the Conservative MP for Wakefield, is found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after plying him with alcohol at a party in 2008. He resigns as an MP on 28 April, triggering a byelection that Labour wins on 23 June.

29 April 2022

Neil Parish, the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, resigns his seat after admitting he twice watched pornography in the House of Commons chamber. His resignation prompts a byelection that results in a decisive Liberal Democrat victory on 23 June.

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17 May 2022

An unnamed Conservative MP is arrested on suspicion of rape and other sexual offences. The MP, who has not been publicly named, is ordered to stay away from Westminster while under investigation by the Metropolitan police. He remains on bail as of 1 July.

25 May 2022

Sue Gray publishes a damning report into lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall, revealing that government staff had drunken brawls, vomited and sang karaoke until dawn while the UK observed strict Covid-19 restrictions on socialising. The prime minister says he is “humbled” and “appalled” but critics doubt his contrition and calls for his resignation grow louder.

30 June 2022

Chris Pincher, the Conservative deputy chief whip, resigns after admitting he had “embarrassed myself and other people” following reports that he drunkenly groped two men at a private club. It is the second time Pincher has resigned from the whips’ office, having previously stood down in 2017 after he was reported to have made an unwanted pass at a Tory activist.


Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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