Boris Johnson allies claim his neighbours are ‘politically motivated' after police called to flat row

Posted On: 
24th June 2019

Top Tory figures have rounded on Boris Johnson’s neighbours after they called the police to a row he had with his partner.

Boris Johnson during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham on Saturday
Credit: 
PA Images

Officers were called to the south London home he shares with Carrie Symonds on Friday morning after neighbours claimed they could hear a woman screaming.

In a recording obtained by The Guardian, Mr Johnson can be heard shouting "get off my f****** laptop" at Ms Symonds, who was heard telling the MP to "get off me" and "get out of my flat".

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The frontrunner in the race to be the next Prime Minister was repeatedly pressed on the issue at a party hustings in Birmingham on Saturday, but insisted that people did not want to hear about it.

Cabinet minister Liam Fox on Sunday said the ex-foreign secretary should offer an "explanation" over the incident, while Jeremy Hunt accused his leadership rival of "refusing" to answer difficult questions.

But former International Development Secretary Priti Patel said it was Mr Johnson’s “choice” whether to address the issue and condemned the concerned neighbours as “politically motivated”.

“I think it’s fair to say the first initial report that was taken to the Guardian newspaper was politically motivated by people," she told the BBC's Today programme.

“I mean, the very prospect of someone taping someone in their private home, quite frankly, tells me that is politically motivated.

“And that is not the type of behaviour that you’d expect in our country. That’s the type of behaviour associated with the old eastern bloc.”

'SNOOPING'

Elsewhere arch-Brexiteer and fellow Johnson supporter, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the situation was “absolutely dreadful” and condemned a later demonstration by hard-left activists outside the pair’s Camberwell home.

He told LBC Radio: “I think the idea that snooping neighbours are recording what is going on for political advantage and then Class War protesters are coming to politicians’ front doors - which happened to me as well - is not a good place for politics to be.

“I think politicians should feel safe and unmolested in their homes. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing to ask for...

“And snoopers are always unattractive. Corbynista curtain-twitchers are not attractive.”

Elsewhere, former Thatcher-era Defence Secretary Sir John Nott said the situation was a "disgrace".

When asked if it was legitimate to report concerns that a neighbour may be being abused to the authorities, he told Sky News: “It depends on the motive.

“If you hear a row next door, you don’t call the police unless you have very strong evidence that something serious is happening.

“What we do know is that these people recorded this thing and then gave it to the Guardian.”

Meanwhile Matt Hancock, who pulled out of the Tory leadership race and later backed Mr Johnson, told the BBC: “The question of whether Boris’ private life is private is perfectly reasonably up to him.

"I don't think anybody would like conversations late at night to be listened in to and snooped on by a neighbour.”

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng meanwhile described the incident as “politically motivated” and a ”put-up job”.

'BIZARRE AND FICTITIOUS'

Speaking this weekend, the neighbour who recorded and contacted the police over the incident, Tom Penn, defended his decision to do so and hit out at "bizarre and fictitious allegations" against him and his wife, Eve Leigh.

He told The Guardian he had been worried about his neighbour's safety, adding: "I hope that anybody would have done the same thing."

Mr Penn said: "Once clear that no one was harmed, I contacted the Guardian, as I felt it was of important public interest.

"I believe it is reasonable for someone who is likely to become our next Prime Minister to be held accountable for all of their words, actions and behaviours.

"I, along with a lot of my neighbours all across London, voted to remain within the EU. That is the extent of my involvement in politics."

In a statement, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: "At 00:24hrs on Friday, 21 June, police responded to a call from a local resident in [south London]. The caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour.

"Police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well. There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action."