Scotland Yard said it will wait until Cabinet Office enforcer Sue Gray concludes her investigation – despite the Good Law Project warning a failure to investigate the bash will be unlawful
Scotland Yard tonight indicated it would wait until a Cabinet Office inquiry concludes before deciding whether to launch a criminal probe.
That appears to suggest the Met Police is waiting for a government civil servant, Sue Gray, to make findings before deciding on a potential criminal case.
It is despite Downing Street previously saying Ms Gray’s inquiry – tipped to come next week – would be paused if Scotland Yard decided to open an investigation.
It is also despite lawyers warning a failure to investigate the bash on 20 May 2020 will be unlawful.
In a letter handed to the Mirror and ITV News, the Good Law Project threatened to launch fresh legal action if the Met fail to investigate.
Sent to Scotland Yard tonight, the letter says: “Our client considers, based on the currently available evidence, that a decision not to investigate the 20 May 2020 party is likely to be unlawful, for reasons similar to those set out in our pre-action correspondence regarding the 18 December 2020 party.
“In particular, there are strong grounds for “retrospectively” investigating this matter as (i) there is clear evidence (certainly sufficient to justify further investigation) including documentary evidence of multiple breaches of the regulations,
“(ii) those concerned are likely to have known they were breaching the regulations, not least because there have been multiple reports of individuals within government warning Mr Reynolds that the event would be unlawful,
“(iii) there is a high public interest in ensuring that those who make the law also keep to the law; this is particularly the case whilst there are still coronavirus regulations in place which must be adhered to by everyone and public trust in those making the laws is essential,
“(iv) the ongoing Sue Gray inquiry should not preclude the MPS from pursuing its own investigations as it is an internal not an “independent” investigation,
“And (v) there has been reporting4 of an instruction within government to destroy relevant evidence (which itself would potentially be a criminal offence) which demonstrates the high risk in delaying your investigation.”
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “The evidence that Boris Johnson broke the law is clear to everyone. Cressida Dick mustn’t let him off the hook through a shady establishment stitch-up.”
The Prime Minister finally confessed that he spent 25 minutes talking to staff in the No 10 garden on 20 May 2020 following days of stonewalling.
Mr Johnson claimed he thought at the time the bash was a work event but recognised “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside”.
That is despite his aide Martin Reynolds telling staff “bring your own booze!”, and all social gatherings between different households in gardens being banned at the time.
Mr Johnson is said to have hit the Commons tearooms after his apology on Wednesday to woo Tory MPs – where some were surprised by his lack of contrition.
The PM told colleagues that “we have taken a lot of hits in politics and this is one of them”, according to The Times.
He added: “Sometimes we take the credit for things we don’t deserve and this time we’re taking hits for something we don’t deserve.”
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“He said that sometimes in life you get the credit for things you don’t deserve, while sometimes you get the blame for something you don’t deserve, too,” a Tory MP told the FT.
“He goes through his life thinking he doesn’t deserve the blame.”
A damaging rift opened with the Scottish Conservatives when leader Douglas Ross broke ranks to say the PM’s position was “no longer tenable”.
He was backed by a string of Scottish MSPs, and three senior Tories in Westminster, including ex-minister Caroline Nokes.
Mr Johnson reportedly refused to guarantee further revelations would emerge in a “tense” 15-minute telephone call in which he called on the PM to resign.
Downing Street have refused to say if the Prime Minister brought a bottle, had a drink or made a speech.
A Met Police spokesperson said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street and Department for Education on various dates and has received correspondence in relation to this reporting.
“Throughout the pandemic the Met has followed the national 4 Es approach of enforcing the Coronavirus Regulations. Where live ongoing breaches of the restrictions were identified, officers engaged with those present, explained the current restrictions, encouraged people to adhere to them, and only as a last resort moved to enforcement.
“In line with the Met’s policy, officers do not normally investigate breaches of Coronavirus Regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place. However, if significant evidence suggesting a breach of the regulations becomes available, officers may review and consider it.
“The Cabinet Office is conducting an inquiry into gatherings at Number 10 Downing Street and the Department for Education. The Met has ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office in relation to this inquiry. If the inquiry identifies evidence of behaviour that is potentially a criminal offence it will be passed to the Met for further consideration.”