politics

Ex-chief prosecutor demands Covid inquiry investigates No10 Christmas party


Nazir Afzal, who lost his brother to Covid, has written to Boris Johnson demanding the alleged wrongdoing of No10 staff is examined by a public inquiry into the pandemic

The letter called on Boris Johnson to confirm the terms of reference will "allow the inquiry to identify leading individuals’ alleged and / or proven non- compliance”
The letter called on Boris Johnson to confirm the terms of reference will “allow the inquiry to identify leading individuals’ alleged and / or proven non- compliance”

An ex-top prosecutor has demanded last year’s No10 Christmas party is investigated by the Covid public inquiry.

Lawyers for Nazir Afzal, whose older brother Umar died of the virus in April 2020, wrote today to Boris Johnson demanding the independent probe examines the December bash for staff, revealed by the Mirror.

And they warned more wrongdoing may have been “hidden and will emerge”.

Sources told the Mirror the Prime Minister gave a speech at a packed leaving do for a top aide last November, during the second national lockdown.

Then days before Christmas, with London in tier 3 restrictions, members of his top team held a festive bash in Downing Street, sources said.

No10 has denied rules were broken, but not denied the events took place.







Lawyers for Nazir Afzal, whose older brother Umar died of the virus in April 2020, wrote today to Boris Johnson
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Image:

PA)

Lawyers for Mr Afzal said the public inquiry must “have the power to identify and examine” any non-compliance with Covid rules by “leading individuals” in the government.

The letter called on Boris Johnson to confirm the terms of reference will “allow the inquiry to identify leading individuals’ alleged and / or proven non- compliance”.

Mr Afzal, a former Chief Crown Prosecutor for north west England, claimed the PM and staff were “partying in breach of Covid guidelines while families have not been able to attend funerals of loved ones”.

He added the inquiry must “look not just at how the pandemic was badly handled, but also at how the rules were plainly ignored by those who led us through it.”

It came as No10 said it would keep any details of a staff Christmas party this year secret.

Tory chairman Oliver Dowden said he is planning a bash for Conservative Party staff. But a Downing Street spokesman said: “Obviously, events that happen in No10 that are private events, we wouldn’t inform you.”

A public inquiry into the Covid pandemic is due to start in spring 2022 but key details have still not been confirmed.

No10 said it still planned to announce a chair of the inquiry by Christmas.

Mike Schwarz, a Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors which is representing Mr Afzal, said: commented: “Public confidence in the Inquiry is crucial.

“It is being constructed at this very moment by those with most to hide and to lose by the truth emerging.

“This correspondence with the Prime Minster is part of a process of building a coalition of those who are as concerned now about the integrity of the Inquiry as they have been about the government’s handling of the pandemic itself.”

A government spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones. We will ensure the inquiry gets to the bottom of many of the questions thousands of bereaved families have about the pandemic.

“We have committed to holding a full public inquiry as soon as is reasonably possible, and will appoint the Chair of the inquiry by Christmas and consult bereaved families and other groups on the terms of reference before they are finalised.

“It is critical we understand what happened in detail, but at the moment it is right that public servants continue to focus their efforts on tackling the pandemic before moving on to the inquiry in Spring.”

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