Met Police asks Sue Gray to make ‘minimal reference’ to No 10 parties under investigation

Force is running parallel criminal probe into potential lawbreaking at Downing Street

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 28 January 2022 15:31
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Related video: Cressida Dick confirms ‘Met is now investigating’ Downing Street partygate allegations

The Metropolitan Police has told Sue Gray to make “minimal reference” to potentially lawbreaking No 10 parties in her report, the force has confirmed.

In a statement released on Friday morning the Met said that “for the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report”.

It comes after an unexpected delay to the release of the much-awaited internal probe into events at Downing Street, reportedly due to a “legal scrubbing” process.

Scotland Yard, which is running a parallel criminal investigation into some of the more potentially egregious events, added that it “did not ask for limitation on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report”.

The statement said the requests for some details to be left out had been “to avoid prejudice to our investigation”.

Boris Johnson continues to anxiously await Ms Gray’s report, which could trigger a vote of no confidence in his leadership by Conservative MPs angered over alleged breaches of lockdown rules.

But MPs waiting for the report’s publication before launching a bid to remove the PM may have their plan derailed if it emerges with its most potentially damaging findings removed.

Downing Street confirmed on Friday morning that it had not yet received the report, which may not be released until next week.

Sources close to the Sue Gray inquiry have previously indicated that the civil service investigator was concerned about the prospect of releasing a report that did not include all of its key findings.

Cabinet Office sources on Frida morning pointed to the inquiry's terms of reference, which require it to establish the nature of the gatherings, including attendance and adherence to the guidance in place at the time.

The department says that the findings will be made public, and that what the Metropolitan Police investigate is for Scotland Yard to decide.

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick announced that a criminal investigation had been launched on Tuesday, after weeks of calls for one.

Officers have not confirmed how many events they are investigating, but reports have suggested the number could be as high as eight.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said the proceedings risked giving the "appearance of an establishment stitch-up".

"So first the police were waiting for Sue Gray, now Sue Gray has to wait for the police?" he said.

"Any appearance of an establishment stitch-up between the Met Commissioner and the Government is profoundly damaging. Police officers need the trust and confidence of the public to do their jobs and keep our communities safe.

"That's why we called for the police to investigate Number 10 weeks ago and put this whole sorry business behind us, instead of waiting for Sue Gray.

"The Sue Gray report must be published in full, including all photos, text messages and other evidence. If it is redacted now, a full, unredacted version must be published as soon as the police investigation is complete."

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