Police to investigate Downing Street lockdown parties

Boris Johnson welcomes the inquiry, saying it would 'give the public the clarity it needs' over the allegations.

1/25/2022 3:30:00 PM

The Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into parties held in No 10 during the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC understands the expected Gray report into the lockdown events now won't be published while police investigate. Read more here:

Boris Johnson welcomes the inquiry, saying it would 'give the public the clarity it needs' over the allegations.

Mr Johnson - who was in the Commons to deliver a statement on the situation in Ukraine - said: "I welcome the Met's decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters.

The news comes afterBut ministers have disputed the number of people attending, and called for "patience" while Ms Gray's inquiry is carried out to establish the facts.She outlined the guidelines on when allegations of past breaches would be investigated, saying the factors the police considered were: Whether there was evidence that those involved "knew, or ought to have known that what they were doing was an offence", where not investigating "would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law", and "where there was little ambiguity around the absence of any reasonable defence".

Read more: BBC London »

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Good old Cressida will sweep it all clean under the carpet Talk about Boris and Met Police laughing 😂 at the public & Parliament, suddenly as report is due be published the Met decides to investigate, they are a joke and Boris has gotten away with his shenanigans BBc professionnel de monsonge Why wasn’t this done immediately it occurred 😡

Is the invesigation codenamed 'Operation: Save Big Dog'? How long will the investigation go? I bet bloody aggggges Gray report delayed - how convenient!

Downing Street police 'give Sue Gray extremely damning partygate statements'Members of the Metropolitan Police’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command are said to have been interviewed as part of the investigation into Boris Johnson and Downing Street's 'partygate' That's a good show at least. If so, they must be sacked, they have a Sworn Duty to prevent crimes happening, if they stood by and watched law breaking they broke their oath, regardless of who was breaking law.

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Police charge 19-year-old with assault and throwing item on to Everton pitchMerseyside Police have charged a 19-year-old man with assault and throwing an item on to the pitch during Aston Villa’s win at Goodison Park Coins don't show up so well in these photos, nestled in the grass. Don't throw ANYTHING at players.

Mum and five-year-old daughter disappear as 'concerned' police launch urgent searchA MASSIVE search is underway for a mum and her five-year-old daughter who went missing yesterday.

NYPD officer's widow shot dead in police ambush posts moving tributeThe body of NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, 22, was taken to a funeral home on Sunday. Police, fire and EMS workers in Manhattan stood and saluted as his body was taken there in a hearse.

Sue Gray report: What exactly is she looking at? Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner renewed calls for Mr Johnson to resign in light of the inquiry, calling him a "national distraction". Asking an urgent question in the Commons, she said "potential criminality has been found in Downing Street", and that the need for a police investigation into No 10 parties was "a truly damning reflection on our nation's very highest office". But Paymaster General Michael Ellis called for MPs to "let the investigation run its course and not pre-empt its conclusions". Mr Johnson - who was in the Commons to deliver a statement on the situation in Ukraine - said: "I welcome the Met's decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters. Media caption, Watch Labour's Angela Rayner: "Potential criminality has been found in Downing Street" "But I want to reassure the House and the whole country that I and the government are focused 100% on dealing with the people's priorities, including the UK's leading role in protecting freedom around the world." The news comes after fresh allegations of a birthday party being held for the prime minister in June 2020. Downing Street has admitted that staff gathered inside No 10 to celebrate Mr Johnson's birthday when the first Covid lockdown was still in place. But ministers have disputed the number of people attending, and called for "patience" while Ms Gray's inquiry is carried out to establish the facts. 'Deep concern' Dame Cressida said on Tuesday that she understood the "deep public concern" about the allegations of parties inside No 10, along with the "huge sacrifices" the public had made during the pandemic. And she said it would "not normally be a proportionate use of time" for the force to investigate rule breaches as far back as two years, but police would look at allegations that "appeared to be the most serious and flagrant breach" of regulations. She outlined the guidelines on when allegations of past breaches would be investigated, saying the factors the police considered were: Whether there was evidence that those involved "knew, or ought to have known that what they were doing was an offence", where not investigating "would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law", and "where there was little ambiguity around the absence of any reasonable defence". Dame Cressida said while the force would not give "a running commentary" on the case, they would provide updates at "significant points". The Met later confirmed the probe would be led by its Special Enquiry Team, overseen by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, the force's lead officer for Covid. Image source, PA Media Image caption, Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick - pictured here with Boris Johnson in 2019 - confirmed the force would look into "potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations". Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey told the BBC the government was in "meltdown", adding: "We got here because the prime minister can't tell the truth, he's lied continually, he's been dishonest to Parliament and to the British people. "He has to go, he should resign." But Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told reporters the PM's leadership had been "brilliant", and the government had done "an amazing job" throughout the pandemic. And Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh told MPs: "When Europe stands on the brink of war and there is a cost of living crisis, can we please have a sense of proportion over the prime minister being given a piece of cake in his own office by his own staff?" Boris Johnson says the Met's investigation should bring clarity - but he should perhaps be careful what he wishes for. We can't anticipate the findings of that inquiry - but even if the prime minister is not slapped with a fixed penalty notice, if any action were to be taken against staff, then questions about the Downing Street 'culture' under his leadership will come to the fore. The former chief whip Mark Harper was anxious to know if the PM himself would be questioned by officers. Even if this was as a witness, this would not exactly help rebuild the public trust which has eroded in recent weeks. And the clarity he seeks could take some time to deliver, potentially elongating the political pain. Some of the Conservative rebels have reached their own verdict, and are hopeful that the mere prospect of a PM's activities being subject to a police investigation will encourage others to join them in submitting letters of no confidence sooner rather than later. One of them said MPs should see this as a political problem, not a police problem. But I have spoken to a few MPs who were poised to send their letters and emails when the Sue Gray inquiry reported. And they are now willing to wait for the Met. That buys time for the PM. One of his colleagues said Mr Johnson would be hoping people would get bored of the issue - especially in the face of potential conflict in Eastern Europe. Tony Blair was questioned in No 10 by officers in 2006, as a witness not a suspect, during the 'cash for honours' inquiry - which did not immediately end his premiership. But another Tory rebel could not see how police involvement could be spun as somehow a good thing for Mr Johnson. He said the situation was "untenable", and urged his colleagues to "grow some" and eject Mr Johnson from office. But so far the horse's hair that holds the sword of Damocles above the prime minister's head remains unsevered. Westminster has been eagerly awaiting the report from senior civil servant Ms Gray into the list of alleged parties that took place over different lockdowns throughout the pandemic, including the birthday party. However, while the Cabinet Office has said her inquiry will continue at the same time as the Met's, not all of her findings will be able to be published until the police have finished their inquiry. And it is not yet clear how long the force's investigation will take. Some Tory MPs have already openly called for Mr Johnson to go, but others have said they are waiting to read Ms Gray's conclusions before deciding on the PM's future. A total of 54 MPs must write to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, declaring no confidence in the PM, to trigger a leadership contest. Senior backbench MP David Davis, who called for Mr Johnson to resign during last week's PMQs, said the police investigation meant "this nightmare gets even worse", adding: "We have to be able to get back to dealing with real threats as quickly as possible." Another senior Tory told the BBC the PM "can't stay now" and this latest development "may trigger a few more to put their letters in". But a former cabinet minister told the BBC he thought the police investigation would delay more letters being written, adding: "Where it depended on what Sue Gray said, it now depends on what the police will say." What penalties could be imposed? Met police chief Dame Cressida Dick stressed: "The fact that we are now investigating does not, of course, mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved." Fixed penalty notices have been the main penalty for Covid-19 rule breaches. Right at the start of the pandemic they were £60 fines, which could be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. That was increased to £100 in May 2020 and £200 later that year, both reducing if paid quickly. And in January 2021 it went up to . Fines could be doubled for repeat offences. It could also get more serious if people refuse to accept fines and opt for a hearing in a magistrates court instead. Related Topics