Keir Starmer has slammed a Boris Johnson attack line against him as being a “ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls” after the Prime Minister alleged that the Labour leader failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.
Johnson claimed on Monday that as director of public prosecutions Starmer “spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile, as far as I can make out”. Jacob Rees-Mogg was seen to point at Starmer saying “aha”.
The Prime Minister is protected by parliamentary privilege when speaking in the chamber, but it has been established that the Savile claim – which has circulated on social media – is incorrect, as Starmer was not the reviewing lawyer for the case.
FullFact reported in June 2020 that Starmer was head of the CPS but not personally involved in the decisions made, and an official investigation commissioned by Starmer later criticised prosecutors and the police for their handling of the situation.
“It is a ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls, and the disgust – and this is where I saw the faces of Conservative MPs, the disgust on their faces, that the Prime Minister was debasing himself by sinking so low in the chamber, was clear.
“They knew that he was going so low with that slur, with that lie. He’d been advised not to do it because it’s obviously not true. But he does it because he doesn’t understand what honesty and integrity means,” Starmer told Sky News today.
The Labour leader told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It’s a slur, it’s untrue, it’s desperate from the Prime Minister. I was really struck yesterday in the House at how many Conservative MPs were disgusted at that untruth from the despatch box.
“Of course on our side, people were disgusted. But his own MPs couldn’t believe their Prime Minister had stooped that low. He’s degraded the whole office. And this is how he operates. He drags everybody into the gutter with him.”
Jimmy Saville was a DJ and media personality who died in 2011. After his death, existing claims of sexual abuse by him became better-known and hundreds more allegations were made. The police concluded he was a prolific sex offender.