Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave evidence at the UK Covid inquiry this week admitting over the course of two days that mistakes had been made - but defending his overall approach.

Dr Gemma Stevens, a social psychologist and lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, analysed Mr Johnson's body language.

Her analysis highlights various body language cues indicating stress, potential deception, and discomfort in Johnson's responses during the inquiry.

Here's what his body language tells us.

Johnson's responses conveyed signs of stress, notably shown through red blotches on his face. From the outset, Johnson's actions, such as arriving early and leaving less sprightly, hinted at his discomfort with the Inquiry. Lip pursing, a potential signal of withholding information, was apparent during challenging questions, especially when queried about the missing 5,000 WhatsApp messages, which also led to hesitations and stutters. 

Micro-expressions, such as a micro-smirk shown by Johnson can also be telling. This subtle expression often emerges when individuals are aware of deceit or enjoy being misleading. It was evident during discussions on emotive issues like Partygate and the disappearance of WhatsApp messages, contradicting his claims of remorse and empathy. 

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Throughout the Inquiry, self-comfort gestures, such as hair-stroking and hand-touching, were recurrent, especially when Johnson discussed his own experience with Covid-19 or faced probing questions about decision-making. Rocking side to side in his chair during uncomfortable topics hinted at his unease. 

Examining Johnson's use of personal pronouns unveiled a distancing strategy. When acknowledging wrongdoing, he referred to "we," distributing responsibility among cabinet members and advisors. In contrast, he used "I" when emphasising strengths in his leadership. 

Eye movements can also serve as subtle cues, with Johnson’s brief eyeroll detected when questioned about delayed lockdown decisions. This suggested discomfort or a feeling of being ‘thrown under the bus’ by his Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The extra blinking during questioning indicated cognitive effort in crafting explanations. 

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Hand gestures also convey meaning. When Johnson expressed regret about comments on long Covid-19, his hands moved away from his body, potentially suggesting remorse not for making the comments but that the evidence remained. 

Question intonation, often displayed as a rise in voice pitch, can indicate uncertainty if used when making a statement. Johnson's rising pitch intonation during some statements, such as when he expressed sorrow for the suffering caused by the pandemic or explaining the missing messages, could potentially suggest an unconscious attempt to ask or gauge believability.