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Friday 29 September 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Alamy Stock Photo British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
# no 10
Four of Boris Johnson's key advisers quit in one day as political pressure mounts
Today, Johnson backtracked on the criticised and debunked claim that Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 3rd 2022, 8:35 PM

BORIS JOHNSON’S LEADERSHIP has been further thrown into crisis by the resignation of four key aides in one day, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak criticised the British Prime Minister during a broadcast from No 10.

No 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds are the latest to have their exit confirmed on a day of turmoil for the embattled British leader.

Munira Mirza, who had been one of Johnson’s most loyal and longstanding advisers, quit over his use of a “scurrilous” Jimmy Savile smear.

She told the British Prime Minister she was departing as No 10’s head of policy because he refused to apologise for the widely criticised attempt to tarnish Keir Starmer.

Then came the resignation of Jack Doyle, No 10’s director of commutations who was embroiled in allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.

In a live broadcast on the cost-of-living crisis, Sunak praised Mirza as a “valued colleague” and criticised the British Prime Minister’s Savile remarks, saying: “I wouldn’t have said it.”

Earlier in the day, the Chancellor did not rule out a leadership bid if Tory MPs force out Johnson over allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.

Johnson backtracked on the debunked claim that the Labour leader failed to prosecute Savile while director of public prosecutions (DPP).

But Mirza, who first advised him as London mayor more than a decade ago, said she was quitting after Johnson stopped short of giving the apology she demanded.

“I believe it was wrong for you to imply this week that Keir Starmer was personally responsible for allowing Jimmy Savile to escape justice,” a letter seen by The Spectator magazine read.

“There was no fair or reasonable basis for that assertion. This was not the usual cut and thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse. You tried to clarify your position today but, despite my urging, you did not apologise for the misleading impression you gave.

You are a better man than many of your detractors will ever understand which is why it is so desperately sad that you let yourself down by making a scurrilous accusation against the Leader of the Opposition.

Johnson, who once praised Mirza as a “brilliant thinker” and listed her as one of the five women who had influenced and inspired him the most, said he was “sorry” to lose her.

But, in an interview with Channel 5 News, Johnson disagreed that his Savile smear was inappropriate.

Tory MP Andrew Griffith has been swiftly appointed to fill her role.

Doyle gave a resignation speech to staff in No 10 saying “recent weeks have taken a terrible toll on my family life” but he always intended to resign after two years in the role, according to the Daily Mail, who he used to work for.

The former journalist reportedly attended at least two of the 12 events in Downing Street and wider UK Government that are under investigation by police.

A No 10 spokesman said: “Jack Doyle has left government. He has made a huge contribution and the Prime Minister is immensely grateful for the work he has done.”

Dan Rosenfield and Martin Reynolds will continue in their roles while successors are appointed, after which Reynolds will return to the Foreign Office, officials said.

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