Neighbour defends Johnson row recording

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PA wire

The neighbour who called police about a loud row at the home of Boris Johnson – and later released a recording to a newspaper – has defended his actions.

The Guardian said Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds could be heard telling the Tory MP to “get out of my flat”.

Tom Penn told the paper he was worried about his neighbours’ safety, adding: “I hope that anybody would have done the same thing.”

On Saturday, the Tory leadership hopeful avoided questions on the row.

Mr Penn said he began recording from inside his flat in Camberwell, south London, after he heard “slamming and banging”.

He explained that when police contacted him to confirm that no-one was hurt and no action was being taken, he made a decision to publicise the incident.

‘Screaming and banging’

“Once clear that no-one was harmed, I contacted the Guardian, as I felt it was of important public interest,” he said.

“I believe it is reasonable for someone who is likely to become our next prime minister to be held accountable for all of their words, actions and behaviours.”

Mr Penn said he was collecting a takeaway meal from outside his front door when he first heard shouting.

He said the shouting was “loud enough and angry enough that I felt frightened and concerned for the welfare of those involved”.

He added: “After a loud scream and banging, followed by silence, I ran upstairs, and with my wife agreed that we should check on our neighbours.

“I knocked three times at their front door, but there was no response. I went back upstairs into my flat, and we agreed that we should call the police.”

Police said they spoke to all occupants of the address, who were safe and well.

‘No care for money’

Mr Penn also criticised “unpleasant things” being said about him and his partner in the media, saying he was upset by some “quite frankly bizarre and fictitious allegations”.

Some of Mr Johnson’s supporters have expressed scepticism about Mr Penn’s political motivation for calling the police and contacting the Guardian.

Mr Penn told the paper: “I, along with a lot of my neighbours all across London, voted to remain within the EU. That is the extent of my involvement in politics.”

On Saturday, Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt made their pitches to party members on why they should succeed Theresa May as prime minister.

Mr Johnson repeatedly avoided questions about the incident, saying people did not “want to hear” about it.

When the event moderator Iain Dale accused him of ducking the question, Mr Johnson did not respond directly, instead saying: “People are entitled to ask me what I want to do for the country.”

Mr Dale was heckled by some in the audience when he pressed the MP on whether he thought a person’s private life had any bearing on their ability to be prime minister, leading Mr Johnson to insist: “Don’t boo the great man”.

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Carrie Symonds has been in a relationship with Mr Johnson since 2018

In the recording, Ms Symonds is reported to be heard saying that the MP had ruined a sofa with red wine, adding: “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything.”

Another neighbour, who would only give her name as Fatima, told the BBC: “I heard a female voice, shouting and screaming, and then I heard things smashing, it sounded like plates or glasses.

“I couldn’t hear what she was saying but she sounded really angry.”

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