Boris Johnson accused of 'baseless slurs' over Sir Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile comment

A Yorkshire former Cabinet Minister has accused Boris Johnson of making “false” and”baseless slurs”, after the Prime Minister said Sir Keir Starmer was behind a failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

Julian Smith has called on Mr Johnson to withdraw the “smear” made in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon, believing it “cannot be defended”.

During the debate on the Sue Gray report yesterday, Mr Johnson said that “this Leader of the Opposition, a former Director of Public Prosecution - who used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile - as far as I can see, he chose this moment to continually pre-judge a police inquiry”.

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The claim has been debunked by fact-checking website FullFact, who said in 2020 that it had never been suggested that Sir Keir was involved in the decision.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog.Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog.

Writing on Twitter this morning, Skipton and Ripon MP Mr Smith said: “The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Savile yesterday is wrong and cannot be defended.

“It should be withdrawn."

The former Northern Ireland Secretary and Chief Whip added: “False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust & can't just be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.”

His sentiments were echoed by Tory peer Baroness Warsi, who said that "Parliament cannot become a place to peddle tropes, conspiracy theories and falsehoods.

"This damages our democracy."

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Baroness Warsi, from Dewsbury, also called on Mr Johnson to retract the statement.

Sir Keir Starmer said this morning that he was “struck” by how many Conservatives were “disgusted at theat untruth from the despatch box”.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, the Labour leader said: “Of course on our side people were disgusted.

“But his own MPs couldn’t believe their Prime Minister had stooped that low.

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“He’s degraded the whole office, and this is how he operates.

“He drags everybody into the gutter with him.”

During yesterday's Commons session, the Prime Minister faced repeated criticism from his own backbenches, including from another former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, who told Mr Johnson he no longer had his support.

Mr Mitchell has now said that the Government is being run like a "medieval court" , telling the BBC: “I think this is a crisis that is not going to go away and is doing very great damage to the party.

“It is more corrosive in my judgement than the expenses scandal was and it will break the coalition that is the Conservative Party.”

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He added: “I think the problem is that Boris is running a modern government like a medieval court, you need to rule and govern through the structures, through Whitehall, through the cabinet for National Security Council.

“Many of us thought he would govern in the way he did when he was Mayor Of London, through being a chairman of a board, running a very good team – that is not what has happened here.”

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