All apologies: the many times Boris Johnson has been told to say sorry
In March, the then foreign secretary was forced to eat humble pie after referring to his Labour opposite number, Emily Thornberry, as the “Lady Baroness whatever” in the House of Commons – an apparent reference to the title of her husband, Sir Christopher Nugee.
His comment brought a sharp dressing down from the Speaker, John Bercow, who said his language was “inappropriate and frankly sexist”. A contrite Johnson insisted he had meant no harm and apologised “unreservedly” if he hurt Thornberry’s feelings.
More seriously, he faced calls to resign in November following claims that his careless comments about a British-Iranian woman held in Iran had jeopardised her chances of release. Giving evidence to the foreign affairs select committee, Johnson said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “training journalists” at the time of her arrest, even though she maintained she was on holiday.
Her dismayed family said the error had been seized upon by Iranian authorities as proof that she represented a threat to the government.
After initially refusing to recant, Johnson finally came to the Commons to publicly admit his “mistake” and apologise for the “distress and anguish” his words had caused.
As a rising star on the Conservative benches, Boris Johnson was rarely far from controversy.
In 2004, he was ordered by the then Tory leader, Michael Howard, to go to Liverpool to apologise in person for an article he had written, accusing the city of wallowing in grief over the killing in Iraq of Ken Bigley, a hostage.
In the same piece for the Spectator magazine, he said Liverpool had made scapegoats of the police in the Hillsborough disaster, while refusing to acknowledge the part played by “drunken” fans “mindlessly” trying to fight their way in.
Johnson admitted he had received a “kick in the pants” from Howard and promised to go to the city in a “spirit of complete humility”.
While campaigning to become London mayor in 2008, he was forced to apologise for another article, written six years earlier, in which he referred to black people as “piccaninnies” and talked about “watermelon smiles”.