What happened to Keir Starmer – and will Boris Johnson apologise for his Jimmy Savile comments?

There was an outcry from politicians of all parties after Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer was berated in the street by an angry group of protesters on Monday (February 7th).

Starmer was whisked away after being heckled and shouted at by the group, some of whom referenced recent remarks made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons about Starmer’s supposed culpability for failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile in 2009.

There have been calls from all sides – including some Conservative MPs – for Johnson to apologise, and withdraw the remarks, which he has yet to do.

READ MORE: Who is Munira Mirza and why has she resigned? PM’s top aide quits with stinging open letter

What happened to Keir Starmer?

On Monday evening, Keir Starmer was accosted by a gang of anti-vax protesters near Parliament, who advised him and showered him with abuse.

Some of the protesters made references to Jimmy Savile, after Boris Johnson suggested Starmer – who was Director of Public Prosecutions from 2008 to 2013 – had been at fault for the decision not to prosecute Savile over allegations made in 2007 and 2008.

After Savile’s death in October 2011, more of his victims came forward with testimony about the sexual abuse they had suffered at his hands.

TheTimes reports that at least one of the gang who confronted Starmer had taken part in “training sessions” run by Alpha Men Assemble, a militant anti-vax group understood to be drilled by former Armed Forces members.

What did Boris Johnson say to Keir Starmer?

Addressing the House of Commons after the publication of Sue Gray’s report into the so-called ‘partygate’ scandal, Boris Johnson implied that Keir Starmer had been at fault for the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile in 2009.

Johnson said that Starmer had spent his time as Director of Public Prosecutions “prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile”.

Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service at the time it was decided not to charge Savile, but the decision not to proceed with charges was made by a junior reviewing lawyer and not Keir Starmer himself.

Barrister Alison Levitt subsequently conducted a review into the CPS’ handling of the case and blamed institutional failures, rather than individual ones, for the failure to prosecute Savile.

The remark prompted uproar at Westminster, with Keir Starmer describing it as a “ridiculous slur” circulated by “right-wing trolls”. He said many Tory MPs had looked shamefaced at it.

It was reported that Johnson’s aides had appealed to him not to refer to the Savile case before the Commons debate, but that he had done so anyway.

Munira Mirza, Johnson’s policy chief, then announced her resignation – stating in an open letter that Johnson had made a “grave error of judgment” over his Savile remarks.

Will Boris Johnson apologise?

Although Boris Johnson initially appeared to backtrack on his remarks to Keir Starmer about Jimmy Savile, he has not offered any apology.

Downing Street sources have told reporters that Johnson has no intention of apologizing to Starmer.

Senior Tory figures including Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Kwesi Kwarteng have all defended Johnson’s comments, while health secretary Sajid Javid said earlier this week that it was time to “move on” from the row.

It was reported in the Sunday Times that the line had been fed to the Prime Minister by cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, but he has disputed this account.

Speaking on his podcast for ConservativeHome, Rees-Mogg said: “What was going on at the time was a very noisy chamber and people were shouting things out. I think it came from behind us, but it seemed to me a perfectly fair point to use.”

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