BORIS Johnson has finally admitted he "probably" met with former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev without officials when he was foreign secretary.

During a two-hour session of the Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister told MPs that he did meet with Lord Lebedev in 2018 without government officials in attendance when he was foreign secretary under Theresa May’s premiership.

The Observer previously reported that the meeting in Italy took place following a summit of foreign ministers in Brussels staged in the wake of the poisoning of ex-Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

Reports suggested the encounter took place a month after the attack using the novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, when Mr Johnson appeared to leave behind his personal security and flew to attend a party at a palazzo near Perugia hosted by Mr Lebedev’s son Evgeny, who was granted a peerage in 2020.

Lord Lebedev’s peerage has been shrouded in controversy after the Sunday Times alleged security services withdrew an assessment that granting the peerage posed a national security risk after the Prime Minister intervened.

Lord Lebedev, the owner of the London Evening Standard and a shareholder in The Independent, and son of Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev, was appointed to the House of Lords in November 2020.

The House of Commons approved a Labour motion in March seeking to force the Government to release documents about Mr Johnson’s involvement.

But in May, ministers simply released the blank form Lord Lebedev was required to fill in by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, the public citation announcing his appointment.

They also published a list of the other peerages awarded at the same time, and a couple of email exchanges with almost all content redacted apart from a note congratulating him on the news.

Mr Johnson was asked by Dame Dianna Johnson if he could confirm the meeting took place.

She said: “Could you just confirm, and I’d just appreciate a yes or a no, that you met with the former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev when you were foreign secretary without officials on April 28, 2018.”

But the Prime Minister said: “I’d have to check.”

But Ms Johnson asked the PM if he was “having a lapse of memory again” in a dig at Mr Johnson claiming he forgot he was previously told about concerns about MP Chris Pincher before promoting him in government.

The Prime Minister said: “I certainly have met the gentleman in question who used to be the proprietor of the London Evening Standard when I was mayor of London.

“I’m certainly not going to deny having met Alexander Lebedev – I certainly have.”

But Ms Johnson pressed the Prime Minister whether the meeting was “with officials when you were foreign secretary”.

The PM said: “I have certainly met him without officials.”

But Dame Meg Hillier intervened, asking him directly if “when you were foreign secretary, did you meet Alexander Lebedev without officials?”

In response, Mr Johnson said: “I probably did.

“I have met him on very few occasions.

“On the occasion you’ve mentioned, if that was when I was foreign secretary, then yes.”

Asked to clarify if that meeting was without officials, the Prime Minister said: “Yes, that makes sense.”

He added that “I think I did mention it” to his officials, and that “I met him in Italy as it happens”.