Boris partygate diary leak claims see Dowden branded compliant tool of blob

Jacob Rees-Mogg defends 'diligent' Boris Johnson

Multiple allies of Boris Johnson have accused Oliver Dowden, Rishi Sunak’s right-hand man, of being behind last night’s news that police had received diary entries purporting to show the former PM breaking lockdown rules at Chequers.

Mr Dowden, who was appointed to the key post of Deputy Prime Minister following the resignation of Dominic Raab, has been in charge of the Cabinet Office since Mr Sunak came to power last October.

Last night it emerged that Cabinet Office civil servants had sent extracts from Mr Johnson’s official diary to the police, alleging they showed him to have broken lockdown rules while staying at his grace-and-favour mansion Chequers.

Mr Johnson’s office and allies emphatically denied any wrongdoing whatsoever, saying: “Lawyers have examined the events in question and advised that they were lawful.”

The Cabinet Office said civil servants were just doing their job, as required by the Civil Service Code.

However this morning Boris Johnson’s allies are openly accusing Oliver Dowden of having a hand in the stitch-up.

The Express understands a growing number of Mr Johnson’s Tory MP supporters now believe Mr Dowden to have given this information to the police.

One ally damningly called the Deputy Prime Minister: “A compliant tool of the blob”.

Another warned: “He will be held to account – blue on blue is never right”.

If true, it would be the second time Boris Johnson had been betrayed by Mr Dowden, following his resignation as Party Chair after the loss of a by-election in June 2022, euphemistically saying ”we cannot carry on with business as usual” and “somebody must take responsibility”.

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However Cabinet Office sources are fighting back against the allegations, describing the claim Mr Dowden had any role as “rubbish”.

“Civil servants passed on the information they’d been given. And civil service contacted police before ministers – or anyone in Downing Street – was aware.”

They also accused last night’s statement from Boris Johnson’s office, in which he said the move was a politically-motivated stitch-up, of containing inaccuracies. Specifically the line: “No contact was made with Mr Johnson before these incorrect allegations were made both to the police and to the Privileges Committee.”

Responding to the allegations of inaccuracies, Mr Johnson’s office said no one in the Government or Cabinet Office gave the former Prime Minister any warning that they were passing on information to the police.

The Cabinet Office absolutely deny any involvement in the process from ministers, political advisors or the Prime Minister.

They are arguing that Mr Johnson’s lawyers acted in line with their professional obligations, and sent the information to the Cabinet Office who in turn sent the diary extracts to the police. The department claims at no point did Civil Servants explore, cast judgement or look at the information in any way, and were merely following the Civil Service Code.

They say there has been no assertion by the Cabinet Office that anything in the diary extracts was unlawful.

Allies of Mr Johnson have given a final warning to Rishi Sunak – to get a grip and stop the witch hunt, or face leadership reprisals.

This morning they say last night’s news was the “final straw” for Boris Johnson and warn that MPs and members supportive of the former PM will begin organising against Mr Sunak shortly, unless he can provably get a grip of the Civil Service.

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