Boris Johnson once wrongly implied that a woman had been shamed into a naked photo shoot, a court has heard.
In a correspondence included in a ruling, the former foreign secretary appears to refer to a woman called Betsy McCormack — who gave evidence on Monday and described Johnson as a bullying bully who had used sexual innuendo, the BBC reports.
The High Court ruled that Johnson’s suggestion that McCormack had been “shamed into a naked photo shoot” could damage her reputation.
The case heard that while Johnson was an MP, he was constantly being texted messages from McCormack.
McCormack told the court she was insulted and demeaned by Johnson and the level of his malice was chilling, the BBC reports.
The woman had initially been afraid to come forward, but gradually felt that it was important to speak out because “the message to those who come forward is that you are worthless,” she told the court.
She also said she had been prevented from attending important political events by Johnson because of his comments about McCormack, whom he referred to as his “dungaree-wearing, tarty friend”.
Priti Patel during a meeting at No 10 Downing Street in 2016. Photo by LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
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During the course of the hearing, Johnson was asked if he had ever sent her a text message which included a reference to sex.
But he said that he did not, adding that “not all of my texts contain sex, I can assure you.”
The court heard that Johnson sent McCormack a text with a picture of “poor” McCormack standing with two policemen.
He wrote: “Betsy is currently making me look like a policeman. I suspect I will have to take my dungaree out of the fire which has been lit beneath it.”
Johnson was “misunderstood” by McCormack over his text messages, his lawyer said.
The BBC has interviewed McCormack twice and she declined to say whether she thought Johnson, who is now foreign secretary, should go because he had used sexual innuendo.