Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has warned MPs not to interfere or intimidate the Privileges Committee as it considers whether Boris Johnson lied to Parliament.
His warning came as senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg labelled the position of the committee’s chairwoman “absurd” and suggested the process was worse than a kangaroo court.
In a message to MPs, the Speaker said: “A very dim view will be taken of any Member who tries to prevent the Committee from carrying out this serious work, or of anyone from outside the House who interferes.”
The email, reported by the Independent, said: “The Committee must be allowed to complete its work without interference, both in relation to the evidence it is taking today and during the time before its report is published.
“I would like to remind you that interference with or intimidation of a committee is potentially a contempt of the House and restraint is appropriate while the committee’s work continues.”
Allies of Mr Johnson have criticised the committee’s chairwoman and condemned the process it has followed ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with the former prime minister.
Harriet Harman’s suitability has been questioned over an April 2022 tweet in which she suggested that by accepting a fine for breaking Covid rules the former prime minister was also admitting to misleading the House.
Hours after the Speaker’s email, Mr Rees-Mogg told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “I think Harriet Harman’s position is absurd, that after (predecessor) Chris Bryant recused himself – quite rightly – she should not possibly have taken on the role when she had expressed her view clearly beforehand.”
Asked whether he shared the view expressed by some of Mr Johnson’s supporters that the process was a kangaroo court, the former cabinet minister said: “I think you’re being very rude to marsupials… I think it makes kangaroo courts look respectable.”
He said “the evidence is clear that they put out the case of the prosecution before they heard from the defence”, something that was “entirely unfair and prejudicial”.
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