Veteran Tory MP Charles Walker is expected to be named on the committee investigating Boris Johnson over claims he misled MPs on Partygate.
A well-respected, long-serving backbencher who had been vice-chair of the 1922 committee for nearly a decade, Walker was quietly nominated by the Liege Truss government as the House of Commons went into conference recess.
The search has been ongoing for months to find a Conservative MP to fill the vacancy left by Laura Faris, who resigned from the influential Privileges Committee in the summer.
There was significant difficulty in finding a suitable replacement who had not previously commented on breaches of the Covid Act in Downing Street and therefore would not trigger claims to approach the inquiry from a biased perspective seeking immunity or a finding against Johnson.
Walker’s name is understood to have been floated for months, and in early September he told the Guardian: “One of our colleagues is coming out of it and I’ve said I’m leaving Parliament at the next general election, I’m willing to do that. If there was a shortage of volunteers.”
He was ignored by Johnson’s administration, which, in its final act, tried to pressure serial abuser Christopher Chope to secure the final four Tory spots on the seven-member committee chaired by Labour’s Harriet Harman.
Walker’s appointment must be approved when MPs return from recess on October 11. Johnson is now a backbencher under investigation into whether he misled MPs by repeatedly denying the Covid legislation – even though he was later fined by police for attending an illegal rally himself.
A rebuttal to legal advice disparaging the inquiry, which cost the Johnson government almost £130,000, is due to be issued when Parliament returns later in the summer. Lord Panic’s response was held up by the Queen’s death but will likely be issued soon.
Some insiders fear that given the enormous pressure placed on the committee over the summer, whether or not Johnson misled parliament will be found to have bowed to pressure from his critics or supporters.