Johnson backs down on Starmer-Savile comments
Boris Johnson has clarified the comments he made, claiming that Keir Starmer was responsible for historic sex offender Jimmy Savile escaping justice.
The PM twice made comments which questioned the Labour leader’s role as Director of Public Prosecutions when the Crown Prosecution Service decided against pursuing prosecution.
He has now clarified those comments, backtracking on any implication that his adversary was personally responsible.
“I want to be very clear about this because a lot of people have got very hot under the collar,” Johnson told broadcasters.
“I’m talking not about the leader of the opposition’s personal record when he was when he was DPP and I totally understand that he had nothing to do personally with those decisions.
“I was making a point about his responsibility for the organisation as a whole and I think people can see that and I just I really do want to clarify that because it is important,” he said.
The original comment came in the House of Commons on Monday, when the PM said: “Instead 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 to use this moment to continually pre-judge a police inquiry.”
He then doubled-down on this claim on Wednesday, despite anger coming from the public and his own party about the claims, when he said during PMQ’s:
“I don’t want to make heavy-weather of this, but I am informed that in 2013, the right honourable gentleman (Starmer) apologised and took full responsibility for what had happened on his watch.”
None of his ministerial colleagues outright backed up this claim, without Parliamentary Privilege in effect, instead looking to deflect the question and claiming personal ignorance as an excuse to not comment either-way.
Although, Deputy PM Dominic Raab did somewhat defend the comment, cooling it down as part of the “cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.”
Grimsby MP Lia Nici, however, did defend his words, calling them “appropriate” and saying it was “absolutely and utterly the number one issue” in Grimsby before the comment was made.
She told, told BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday: “I think it’s appropriate to question whether Sir Keir has ability to lead when he was head of the CPS, about serious issues such as the Jimmy Savile investigation.”
The allegation gained traction in right wing circles on social media when Starmer was replacing Jeremy Corbyn at the head of the Labour Party, with controversial personality Tommy Robinson sharing it.
Many Conservatives were reportedly privately outraged at the remark, and one former chief wip tweeted his disapproval, saying it is “wrong & cannot be defended”.
“False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust & can’t just be accepted as part of the cut & thrust of parliamentary debate,” he added.
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