Boris Johnson – 2022 Answers at Liaison Committee (Meeting with Alexander Lebedev)

The answers given by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, at the Liaison Committee held in the House of Commons on 6 July 2022.

Dame Diana Johnson: My final question. Could you confirm—I would appreciate a yes or a no—that you met former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev without officials when you were Foreign Secretary on 28 April 2018?

The Prime Minister: I would have to check.

Q42 Dame Diana Johnson: Are you having a lapse of memory again?

The Prime Minister: No. You are asking me a very specific question about a very specific date. I would have to get back to you. I certainly have met the gentleman in question—

Q43 Dame Diana Johnson: Without officials?

The Prime Minister: He was the proprietor of the London Evening Standard when I was Mayor of London. I am certainly not going to deny having met Alexander Lebedev. I certainly have. As far as I remember, he used to own the London Evening Standard.

Q44 Dame Diana Johnson: Yes, but with officials when you were Foreign Secretary. Did you meet him with officials or without?

The Prime Minister: Look, I have certainly met him without officials. As I say, he is a proprietor of a newspaper.

Q45 Chair: Perhaps you could write to us with a specific answer to that very specific question.

The Prime Minister: Very happy to.

Q46 Dame Meg Hillier: Can I just follow that up, Prime Minister? You said you met him without officials. Presumably that was when you were Mayor of London. When you were Foreign Secretary, did you meet Alexander Lebedev without officials?

The Prime Minister: I think I probably did, but—

Q47 Dame Meg Hillier: Probably did?

The Prime Minister: As I say, I would need to check.

Q48 Dame Meg Hillier: You are used to regularly meeting him? “Probably” because you meet him often or “probably” because you can’t remember?

The Prime Minister: I have met him on a very few occasions—

Q49 Dame Meg Hillier: As Foreign Secretary?

The Prime Minister: On the occasion you mention, if that was when I was Foreign Secretary, then yes.

Q50 Dame Meg Hillier: Without officials?

The Prime Minister: Yes. That makes sense, yes.

Q51 Dame Meg Hillier: Did you report to your officials that you had met him?

The Prime Minister: I think I did mention it, yes.

Q52 Chair: And where did you meet him?

The Prime Minister: I met him in Italy, as it happens, but I really, you know—

Chair: Perhaps you will write to us.

Dame Meg Hillier: Was it a personal engagement?

Chair: We will move on.