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Boris Johnson Accused Of "Debasing Himself" Over False Jimmy Savile Claim In Commons

2 min read

Labour leader Keir Starmer said that the false claim — repeated by the Prime Minister on Monday — that he had historically prevented Jimmy Savile being charged was a "ridiculous slur peddled by right wing trolls”.

On Monday Boris Johnson told in the Commons that Starmer, who was previously director of public prosecutions, "used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile".

The claim is false and has been repeatedly debunked. While Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) when the decision not to prosecute Savile was made, he was not the lawyer responsible for the decision. The decision was based on police mishandling of evidence.

The claim had previously been spread on far-right groups on social media.

Johnson has received significant backlash for the jibe, and Starmer accused the Prime Minister of "debasing himself" by making the comment.

"It is a ridiculous slur peddled by right wing trolls," he told Sky News.

"The disgust on the faces of Conservatives MPs that their Prime Minister was debasing himself by sinking so low in the Chamber was clear."

"They knew that he was going to so low with that slur, with that lie. He'd been advised not to do it because its obviously not true."

"But he does it, because he doesn't understand what honesty and integrity means."

He continued: "I'm glad that those Tory MPs were disgusted, and many of them expressed that to me."

Former Conservative chief whip and MP Julian Smith is among those who has openly criticised Johnson's remarks. 

“The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Savile yesterday is wrong and cannot be defended. It should be withdrawn,” he tweeted.

“False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust and can’t just be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.”

Smith was referencing comments made by justice secretary Dominic Raab, who said that Johnson's comments were simply "part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debates".

But he told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he couldn't "substantiate" the Prime Minister's claims.

"I’m certainly not repeating it," Raab, himself a former lawyer, said. "I don’t have the facts to justify that."

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