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Four Johnson aides resign over ‘partygate’ saga

Munira Mirza, left, with Boris Johnson in Downing Street. / AFP

His top political adviser leaves on a moral issue, but the other three pay for their role in the Downing Street mess

Four collaborators of Boris Johnson resigned from their positions throughout this Thursday, creating the space to renew the prime minister’s office, in the case of three of them, and airing the bitterness in their environment, in the fourth case. The organization of supposedly illegal meetings in Downing Street and Johnson’s response to that revelation are the reasons for his departure.

Jack Doyle, director of communications and former journalist for the ‘Daily Mail’, leaves citing the stress that his family life has suffered in recent weeks. Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield will remain in his position until a successor is found, possibly returning to the bench. Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s private secretary, will return to the Foreign Office.

Those three resignations have been greeted by Conservative MPs as a sign that their leader is keeping his promise to resolve the problems in Downing Street, which would have led to the grotesque saga about meetings during lockdowns. It reveals instability. Doyle’s successor will be Johnson’s fourth communications director in his two-and-a-half-year tenure.

Munira Mirza’s resignation is different. His letter to Johnson justifies his departure on moral grounds. She was the director of the Policy Unit, the group of advisers specialized in governance areas that articulates ideas and draws up lines of action for the prime minister. Mirza has been a prominent adviser to Johnson since his time as mayor of London to justify on a moral issue.

At the presentation of civil servant Sue Gray’s mutilated report on the meetings last Monday, Johnson responded to Labor leader Keir Starmer’s speech, which focused on personal facets of the prime minister that would make him “unsuitable to govern”, alleging that Starmer ” he dedicated himself to persecuting journalists but not Jimmy Savile when he was a state prosecutor.


Starmer was the director of the Crown Prosecution Service when the Police opened an investigation into illegal practices of journalists, settled with millions in compensation to victims, and one on Savile, based on the accusation of sexual abuse of four women. The flamboyant television star, embraced by rulers and the royal family for his fundraising campaigns for charitable causes, was promoted as ‘Sir’ by Margaret Thatcher.

After his death, there were more than 450 allegations of sexual abuse of victims aged 8 to 47 years. He was a famous and powerful man and the four women who had denounced him to the Police did not want to personally support possible actions by the Justice. In these circumstances, the prosecutor’s attorney handling the case ruled that there was no possibility of bringing viable charges in court.

The flood of subsequent complaints prompted Starmer to investigate what had happened. A central problem was that the Police did not inform the four women individually that there were other complaints. Perhaps that knowledge would have encouraged them to testify against Savile. Starmer apologized publicly, created a structure of regional entities specialized in cases of sexual abuse of minors and panels of prosecutors and police to coordinate.

Johnson’s accusation provoked reactions. Scottish SNP spokesman Ian Blackford was sacked for saying the PM has misled Parliament, something that cannot be said in the House, but Johnson can accuse Starmer of failing to prosecute a child molester. Munira Mirza asked Johnson to rectify it, because she, she says in her letter, “an improper and sectarian reference to a horrendous case of sexual abuse of children.”

Johnson clarified Thursday that he does not accuse Starmer of personal responsibility for Savile’s evasion of those claims, but his longtime adviser had demanded an apology from him. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak also distanced himself from the prime minister, saying at a press conference that he would not have said so.


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