Boris Johnson during PMQs (Image: PA)
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Boris Johnson stands accused of misleading rape victims over claims the Government is pumping £1bn into clearing court backlogs.
Labour's David Lammy has accused the Prime Minister of "either a deliberate lie or a terrible mistake" after he made the false statement during Prime Minister's Questions, as the Government is investing a small fraction of the sum.
The Shadow Justice Secretary has written to the PM telling him he misled MPs and to the stats watchdog to demand an investigation.
The PM was hitting back at Keir Starmer, who was lambasting the Government over the country's record-low conviction rate for rape and the Tories' closure of 295 courts since 2010.
Mr Johnson, who later came under fire for dismissing questions about rape as "jabber", said minister were "fixing that by investing another £1 billion in clearing the court backlogs".
In fact, the Spending Review revealed the Government is investing “£275 million to manage the downstream demand impact of 20,000 additional police officers and reduce backlogs in the Crown Court.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice David Lammy MP
(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)
Mr Lammy's letter to the PM, and the UK Statistics Authority, says: “In Parliament you not only dismissed Keir Starmer’s questions about the record-low conviction and prosecution rates for rape as ‘jabber’, you misled the House about the amount of funding your government is prepared to invest to fix it.
“This is either a deliberate lie, or a terrible mistake which shows you have no grasp of the scale of the problem for victims in the justice system.
“Will you come to the House urgently to correct the record and apologise, once again, to rape victims for failing them?”
A source close to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland called the claims "a misleading gimmick", adding Mr Johnson was "clearly" referring to cash for victims support "over a number of years".
He said: "It's time for David to drop his Talk Radio show, spend less time on Twitter and engage with the issues."
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During PMQs Mr Johnson apologised to rape victims for the trauma and delays they have faced in securing justice but came under heavy criticism after he took aim at Labour at the end of the exchange, saying: “We are getting on with the job. They jabber, we jab. They dither, we deliver. They vacillate, we vaccinate.”
Labour's Jess Phillips was among those who called the comments "disgraceful".
A party spokesman later clarified that the PM was aiming the comments at the Labour leader rather than shrugging off questions about the issue.