Boris Johnson will not apologise for his controversial attack on Sir Keir Starmer accusing him of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile, Downing Street has said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman acknowledged his original words last week in the Commons were “capable of being misconstrued” which was why he later issued a “clarification”.
The spokesman said: “The Prime Minister clarified his remarks last week to make clear he was not suggesting Keir Starmer was individually responsible for the Savile decision.
“I think the Prime Minister was making a political point about taking responsibility for organisations as a whole.”
What did Boris Johnson say about Sir Keir?
Mr Johnson has been under increasing pressure to withdraw his attack on Sir Keir over the remarks he made in Parliament last week.
The Prime Minister falsely claimed the Labour leader “used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” while Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from 2008 to 2013
The comments sparked backlash among both Labour and Tory MPs, including the PM’s own personal advisers
Sir Keir was bundled into a police car for protection near Parliament on Monday (7 February) after facing baseless allegations of “protecting paedophiles” from protesters shouting about Savile.
At least six Conservatives, including a former Cabinet minister, joined MPs from across the political spectrum in linking the harassment to the baseless claim which Mr Johnson made while under pressure over the partygate scandal.
However, technology minister Chris Philp said Mr Johnson could not be held responsible for the “unacceptable” actions of the demonstrators.
Mr Philip said that some of those taking part had been involved in similar incidents targeting Communities Secretary Michael Gove and the BBC journalist Nick Watt.
He told Sky News: “They did mention Jimmy Savile. They also mentioned Julian Assange repeatedly, they mentioned Covid, they also mentioned the opposition more generally.
“I don’t think you can point to what the Prime Minister said as the cause of that. You certainly can’t blame him for the fact that that mob were clearly behaving in a totally unacceptable way.
“You certainly can’t say that what he said in any way prompted, provoked or justified the harassment and intimidation we saw last night.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has warned MPs that their “words have consequences” and demanded an explanation from the Metropolitan Police after a mob hounded Sir Keir near Parliament.
Sir Lindsay said reiterated that it was “inappropriate” for Boris Johnson to level a Jimmy Savile smear against Labour leader Sir Keir, warning such comments “only inflame opinions”.
Making a statement to MPs, he criticised the “disgraceful behaviour” directed at Sir Keir and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy near Parliament.
Sir Lindsay said: “I deplore the fact that members of this House were subjected to intimidating and threatening behaviour while simply doing their jobs.
“I know the whole House will join me in saying that we stand with our colleagues in condemning the behaviour they and the police experienced.
“While I do not comment in detail on security matters on the floor of the chamber, steps must be in place to keep passholders secure as they enter and leave the parliamentary estate.
“I have requested a situation report from the Metropolitan Police via our security team on how this incident occurred.”
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