Boris Johnson’s defence against claims he lied to Parliament over the Partygate scandal could be published on Monday, as he prepares to face a hearing over his conduct.

The former prime minister could be pushed out of the Commons if he is found to have misled Parliament about his knowledge of Covid rule-breaking parties.

The Privileges Committee is examining evidence around at least four occasions when Mr Johnson may have misled MPs with his assurances that lockdown rules were followed.

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson said the committee “will vindicate” his position.

When is Boris Johnson’s Privileges Committee hearing?

The former prime minister will give evidence to the Privileges Committee on Wednesday 22 March, starting at 2pm. The session could last up to five hours.

The hearing will be public, broadcast live on Parliament TV. There will also be a live stream here on this page.

What is the Privileges Committee?

The Privileges Committee is a cross-party group of seven MPs, comprised of four Conservative, two Labour and one SNP member. It is currently chaired by Labour’s Harriet Harman.

The committee is appointed by the House of Commons to consider specific matters relating to privileges referred to it by the House. Parliamentary privilege is a legal immunity enjoyed by members of the House of Commons and House of Lords designed to ensure that parliamentarians are able to carry out their duties free from interference.

What should we expect from the hearing?

The Privileges Committee is expected to publish a lengthy submission from Mr Johnson’s barrister, Lord Pannick KC, before the former prime minister gives evidence on Wednesday.

The committee will decide whether Mr Johnson misled the Commons with his denials of lockdown rule-breaking in No 10 at the height of the pandemic.

If the MPs believe he did mislead the House, they will consider whether it was “reckless or intentional” and amounted to a contempt of Parliament.

After an interim report by the committee this month said evidence strongly suggested breaches of coronavirus rules would have been “obvious” to the then-prime minister, Mr Johnson claimed it was “clear” that he had not committed a contempt of Parliament.

He said there was “no evidence in the report that I knowingly or recklessly misled Parliament” or failed to update it in a timely manner.

Mr Johnson has also sought to cast doubt on the findings of Sue Gray’s report on Partygate, after she quit the civil service because she intends to take up a role as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer‘s chief of staff.

Allies of Mr Johnson claim that, despite his insistence he will be vindicated, the process against him could amount to a “witch hunt”.

They have also sought to cast doubt on the impartiality of Ms Harman after a social media post last year indicated she believed Mr Johnson had misled Parliament.

Former minister Conor Burns, an ally of Mr Johnson, said: “Boris Johnson’s contention is that what he told the House of Commons was, to the best information supplied to him, true when he told that to Parliament, and I welcome the fact that he is going to bring forward evidence to back up that.

“It’s not unusual, anyone who has appeared as a minister in the House of Commons knows that you rely very heavily on briefing that you’re given.”

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said he expected Mr Johnson to give a “robust defence” of his actions.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “The Privileges Committee will vindicate Boris Johnson’s position.

“The evidence will show that Boris Johnson did not knowingly mislead Parliament.”

The former prime minister is expected to highlight previously undisclosed WhatsApp messages from senior civil servants and members of his No 10 team showing he had relied on their advice when he made his statements to Parliament.

He will also publish messages which show other senior figures in Downing Street believed the gatherings were covered by the “workplace exemption” in the lockdown rules.

The committee will publish its findings on whether Mr Johnson committed a contempt of Parliament and make a recommendation on any punishment, but the ultimate decision will fall to the full House of Commons.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has said he will not seek to influence MPs on the committee and is expected to grant a free vote in the Commons on any sanction that may be recommended.

A suspension of 10 sitting days or more for Mr Johnson could ultimately trigger a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, which he held with a majority of 7,210 in 2019.

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