The Metropolitan Police is facing a legal challenge over its decision not to launch an investigation into numerous lockdown breaking parties at Downing Street.
The move comes as a former chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, said the force's approach was becoming “an issue of competence in the police”.
Lawyers acting for the Good Law Project issued formal legal proceedings against the Met on Tuesday, alleging that the failure to investigate was unlawful. The service's decision will now be subject to judicial review.
Government officials and the prime minister are alleged to have repeatedly broken Covid restrictions at No.10, hosting parties and cheese and wine evenings throughout lockdown.
The gathering include social events to celebrate Christmas, as well as a “bring your own booze” drinks on 20 May which the prime minister and his wife reportedly attended.
The Met has however resisted opening a formal investigation into the events despite many other people hosting parties around the same dates receiving hefty fines.
Questions have also been raised about why police officers guarding Downing Street did not spot and report an apparent crime in progress at the time.
It was reported overnight that the Met is in contact with the Cabinet Office over the 20 May event.
Sir Peter, who previously headed Greater Manchester Police, told Times Radio on Tuesday that "questions have been asked why the police are not investigating".
"Normally, if an organisation is thought to have breached the law, you don’t normally leave it for that organisation to go away and investigate it themselves and wait for the result," he said.
"And I think obviously, some people have said there’s quite a lot of police officers on duty, around Number 10, why did they not realise that there was something going on and report it or at least give advice that this shouldn’t be going on?
"So I think, unfortunately, it’s becoming, you know, as well as an issue of political confidence, one of competence in the police and almost the investigation system."
Sir Peter said he understood the force's initial decision not to investigate but that it needed "to give a very full statement about their decision making, probably in consultation with a Crown Prosecution Service, and with the Mayor of London so that "the public do understand the reasoning as to why they’re going to investigate or not investigate".
Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, said: "You can have the rule of law, or you can defer to the powerful. But you can't have both. Cressida Dick's cat will know that multiple criminal offences were committed.
"It shames the Met, and ultimately all of us, that she refuses to investigate."
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