BORIS Johnson has backed down over claims that Sir Keir Starmer “failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile”.
The Prime Minister made the comments while he was attempting to defend himself on Monday following the publication of the Sue Gray update into parties at Downing Street.
The claims have sparked widespread criticism, and have been debunked by several outlets and found to be false.
Yet until today Mr Johnson has refused to retract the remarks, and doubled down on them yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions.
However this afternoon on a visit to Blackpool, he told journalists he wanted to “clarify” what he meant and said he had not been talking about Sir Keir’s “personal record” while he was director of public prosecutions (DPP) for England and Wales.
The Prime Minister said: “I want to be very clear about this because a lot of people have got very hot under the collar, and I understand why.
“Let’s be absolutely clear, I’m talking not about the Leader of the Opposition’s personal record when he was DPP and I totally understand that he had nothing to do personally with those decisions. I was making a point about his responsibility for the organisation as a whole.
“I really do want to clarify that because it is important.”
His retreat came after Cabinet ministers were sent out to defend Mr Johnson’s deployment of the conspiracy theory said to have been spread by supporters of the far-right.
The Prime Minister had been refusing to withdraw the claim, and maintained his stance in an interview with the Sun published today by saying the slur was “fairly accurate”.
During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday he went on to point to the fact that Sir Keir apologised while DPP in 2013 for the CPS having failed to bring Savile to justice four years earlier.
But there is no evidence that Sir Keir had any personal role in the failure to prosecute the man who was one of Britain’s most egregious sex offenders before his death in 2011.
The Labour leader accused Mr Johnson of “parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists to try to score cheap political points”.