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Met Police considering complaints that Christmas parties at No 10 during lockdown broke Covid rules

Scotland Yard says it does not routinely investigate retrospective breaches of Covid regulations

Andy Gregory
Saturday 04 December 2021 16:01 GMT
Boris Johnson by the Christmas tree outside 10 Downing Street (Justin Tallis/PA)
Boris Johnson by the Christmas tree outside 10 Downing Street (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

The Metropolitan Police are considering complaints that Boris Johnson and his staff may have broken coronavirus rules with parties at Downing Street last Christmas.

The force confirmed that it was “aware of widespread reporting and has received correspondence” relating to alleged breaches of health regulations on two dates in November and December last year.

“It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations; we will however consider the correspondence received,” Scotland Yard said in a statement on Saturday.

The prime minister has not denied the events took place but said no rules were broken – although he has repeatedly refused to explain how that could be the case.

Labour backbenchers Neil Coyle and Barry Gardiner had each written to Scotland Yard asking police to investigate reports in the Daily Mirror that two parties were held in the run-up to last Christmas – at a time when such gatherings were banned.

In the first instance, Mr Johnson is alleged to have given a speech at a packed leaving-do for a senior aide last November, during England’s second lockdown.

Members of his team then held their own festive party in the days before Christmas, while London was under Tier 3 restrictions, according to the paper.

Both occasions allegedly saw 40 or 50 people crammed “cheek by jowl” into a medium-sized room in No 10.

The two letters to Scotland Yard came after Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said on Friday morning that her force was not investigating the allegations as it had not received any correspondence relating to them.

Asked during a phone-in on LBC what would happen if she received a letter, Dame Cressida said: “If I get a letter, I’ll read a letter.”

Pressed further, she added: “This is the Met. We are professional. We are impartial. We act without fear or favour. We follow evidence. That’s what we do.”

In a letter sent to the police hours later, Mr Coyle said: “The sense of outrage from constituents is palpable that they followed the rules while those responsible for devising and enforcing them were breaching them at the top of government.

"The prime minister has been questioned on this and has replied that 'no Covid rules were broken' but from reading the guidance I believe even holding these events was a breach of the rules at the time.”

In another letter sent separately on Friday, Mr Gardiner expressed surprise at Dame Cressida’s comments that the Met had not been investigating the allegations, saying:“If these events did take place, it implies that there is one rule for the government and another for everyone else.

“I believe your officers should investigate the matter further to establish the facts and to see if any laws might have been broken.”

Separately, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has written to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to ask whether he had considered referring the matter to the Met.

At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of “taking the British public for fools for following the rules”.

“The prime minister doesn’t deny there was a Downing Street Christmas party last year," he said. “He says no rules were broken. Both of those things can’t be true.”

Additional reporting by PA

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