The House Committee on Ethics must now determine if Boris Johnson is guilty of lying to the Commons.
They will find this rather tricky. The PM knows the formulae that will probably save him. He misled MPs, misrepresenting the facts, but all because he didn't have a complete grasp of them at the time.
Over in the US, i.e. post-truth America, there has been some chatter around the topic of perjury and specifically whether Amber Heard should face relevant charges.
This too would be tricky. My gut feeling is that Heard has often been lying in court, but she has in the main situated these lies within her own personal truth, AKA 'lived experience', largely disconnected from the documented facts.
Where she could be more vulnerable is in the area of doctored evidence and in the incitement of third parties to commit perjury on her behalf.
V and I have been the victims of false testimony on multiple occasions here in Guatemala. The first instance was all too clear cut: my accuser filed a police report alleging I had attacked her on a day I was not in the country. There is no way she can not have known that she was lying. Utterly despicable.
In court she avoided prosecution and secured a peace agreement of sorts based on another blatant lie. Yet on that occasion it was her lawyer who perjured herself, giving faith in front of the judge to a non-fact.
Unlike subsequent members of her legal team, this lawyer had an air of basic decency and honour about her. I am inclined to think that she sincerely believed she was telling the truth at the time, and thus was possibly herself the victim of her client's malicious dishonesty. (But still, she gave faith to something she could not give faith to, because all she had to go on were the words coming out of the mouth of a client that by then she absolutely had to know is a liar.)
Last March the same woman's husband blithely lied to a judge, claiming to have only missed two of the previous court sessions, when in fact he has skipped six.*
Of course he might argue that the other four had somehow slipped his memory, but what of when he informed another judge in 2020 of his employment and income status in a manner that was patently untrue at the time?
This man also produced a denuncia against us at the MP later that year which was grounded in a collection of the most absurdly and obviously false allegations. The most bizarre aspect of this was that the evidence he submitted actually incriminated him in the commission of the very crime that he was trying to pin on us.
These counter-denuncias are a worrying feature of the justice system in Guatemala. It is highly unlikely that the authorities in European countries would ever permit a man accused of sadistic, sexually-aggravated abuse to harass his victim — while he was consistently dodging the requirement to face her in court — with spurious allegations which amount to a form of intimidation, if not extortion.
He now seems to have become so hooked on the highs of making ludicrously baseless allegations that he has only gone and made one against one of the presiding judges on his case, also in a sense, his jury. Your guess is as good as mine as to what he can possibly hope to achieve with that.
In spite of the collective expensiveness of her legal team, Amber Heard has made also made some bizarre gaffes, such as submitting digital photos as evidence which pretty much any computer-literate person could expose as having been modified from the originals.
Our accuser submitted much of his evidence in 2020 as low-res black and white print-outs, perhaps aware that the original digital files would end up in effect testifying against him.
He has also resorted to inciting others to lie on their behalf, dependents, friends and so on, but most significantly legal counsel, and in the latter case at least, it's always hard to make accusations of perjury stick on representatives and/or underlings.
Today Amber Heard stated that a number of her ex-husband's witnesses including Kate Moss plus other friends and employees had "come out of the woodwork" for him (a barely disguised euphemism for lying on his behalf) owing to his power as a famous male.
When she then alleged that he had "recruited" millions to torture her, she was in effect positing that absolutely nobody could support him without having submitted to his terrible power — which made him sound like that other tyrant of the current moment Vladimir Putin…rather than a leading Hollywood character actor.
In doing so she is all too obviously neglecting the contribution that her own personal aura and the apparent incompetence of her legal team might have made to this full on recruitment drive.
It's nevertheless evident that many people are indeed willing to lie or at least back up a falsehood for someone on whom they are dependent financially or by whom they are perhaps just subconsciously influenced or manipulated. Yet I find Amber's apparent willingness to make these accusations against otherwise credible witnesses disturbing.
Since the start of the Deppfamation trial in Virginia, she has hovered on the edge of open disrespect to the court and the process and can barely conceal her contempt for the opposing legal team.
However much I might personally dislike a question or indeed the person asking it, a courtroom is never the place to become brincón (overbearing), because, like the House of Commons, it is a space where all discourse takes place with a duty of utmost respect to the presiding authority.
And it's hard to picture Heard as a mouthpiece of the truth when she responds to questioning by conducting a sort of performance where she addresses, the ceiling, the jury, the back of the room, but almost never the person conducting the interrogation. In her case "non-responsive" tends to mean over-responsive.
Liars resorting to ‘my truth’ often end up in an alternative reality of their own fabrication, where all connection with actual events becomes distorted.
Surprisingly often, bad advice lies at the root of this. I can’t help imagining that for Amber there was a watershed moment when someone (or maybe just her inner demons) told her she might perpetuate her status in the industry beyond a certain age by becoming a voice. Those offering this sort of advice rarely touch on the potential for blowback.
I have believed from the start that this couple engaged in mutual abuse. But the case is not about domestic abuse, it is about the kinds of speech that are permissible in the aftermath of such abuse.
And this is where Amber's status as a voice tends to come apart. Depp has shown up with convincing witnesses and supporting evidence that he was himself abused. Heard has not, at least relatively.
Having watched much of the trial I cannot recall a single telling piece of evidence presented by Heard's lawyers, and this when their client was clearly the sort to create incriminating tableaux for her camera, along with a tendency to use audio rather speculatively. One ends up with the impression of someone who has tried, and ultimately failed, to fully entrap her partner.
Yet she still might have been abused by Depp. If so, one has to be sympathetic, but ultimately that is not what this trial has been about.
The significance here is not about criminal behaviour, but about the principle that any statement made about someone else in public needs to have some sort of perceptible foundation in truth.
Time and time again in Guatemala I have had to put up with statements made in public about me that have none such: statements about my character, my actions, my sexuality, my reproductive status, my professional abilities, my security system and so on — all just calumnies that are hardly worth the time it would take to rebut them.
In the state where Depp and Heard are facing off, defamation is defined as speech based on malicious falsehood or a reckless disregard for the truth. Here in Guatemala the law is seemingly less certain, sometimes deferring to the alleged victim's sense of injury rather than any agreed notion of objective truth.
While Amber may have failed to prove that she possessed the requisite foundation for her to pen that piece in the Washington Post, Depp is also going to struggle to prove that she has acted maliciously. He's more or less in the position I would have been had I lacked that stamp in my passport demonstrating beyond all reasonable doubt the malicious intent of my accuser.
As I said, I have my gut feeling, but juries ought not to reach verdicts with their gut. Their job is simply to decide whether conclusive cases have been served up by the lawyers. (Though in truth juries often seem to resort to a balance of probabilities, just like the rest of us.)
Back to Boris...an absolute master at allowing others to take the fall for him. That and the non-apology, the non acceptance of personal responsibility. And like Trump, it would seem that he is being protected from the usual consequences of his actions and attitudes by compliant, cowardly and possibly venal members of his own entourage.
The people may some day get the chance to properly punish them, and him, for their defiant lack of principle.
* His lawyer has missed double that number. Together the absence of one or the other of them has required the trial to be rescheduled a total of 15 times. This looks far more like a duplicitous strategy than an unlikely pattern of chance events.