The Metropolitan Police in London has launched an investigation into possible violations of the blockade of COVID-19 at the residence of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Downing Street, after receiving evidence from an internal government investigation into a series of gatherings.
After initially refusing to investigate the alleged violations, United Kingdom senior police officer Cressida Dick told the London Assembly, the city’s local government council, on Tuesday that her office would launch an investigation into a number of events on Downing Street and Whitehall.
Johnson has vowed to co-operate with police in any formal investigation.
“I welcome Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation, because I believe it will give the public the necessary clarity and help draw a line on the issue,” he told parliament on Tuesday.
The prime minister is facing calls to resign amid revelations that he and his staff attended a series of parties in the spring and winter of 2020, when most social gatherings were banned across England, forcing ordinary citizens to miss weddings. funerals and birthdays as friends and relatives died alone in hospitals.
The meetings are already being investigated by senior government official Sue Gray, whose report, expected this week, will be crucial in determining whether Johnson can stay in power.
The cabinet said Gray’s investigation would continue. But it was not immediately clear whether Gray would have to postpone announcing his findings because of the police investigation.
Johnson apologized for attending a garden party at his Downing Street offices in May 2020, but said he considered it a work gathering that fell within the rules of social distancing in effect at the time.
In the latest revelation, ITV News reported late Monday that Johnson attended a birthday party at his Downing Street office and later hosted friends at his official upstairs residence in June 2020.
His office denied the gathering violated blocking rules, saying the prime minister hosted a small number of family members in the open, which was in line with the rules at the time.
“No one is above the law”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the police investigation, saying “no one is above the law”.
“The public rightly expects the police to obey the law without fear or favor, no matter who is involved, and I was clear that members of the public should be able to expect the highest standards from everyone, including the prime minister and those around him.” Khan said in a statement.
“No one is above the law. There can be no one rule for the government and another for everyone else. “
Labor deputy leader Angela Raynor welcomed the investigation and renewed opposition calls for Johnson to resign.
“Boris Johnson is a national distraction. Conservative MPs (legislators) must stop supporting him and he must finally do the right thing and resign. “
Police have previously faced criticism for suggesting that they will not investigate the partygate scandal because it does not routinely investigate historical violations of coronavirus regulations.
But Dick told the meeting that the investigation was justified in this case, as there is evidence that those involved knew or should have known that what they were doing was illegal, failure to investigate would “significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law” and it seems that there is no reasonable protection for the behavior.
“So in cases where those criteria were met, the guidelines suggested that we should potentially study further and eventually give people tickets,” she said.
Fixed criminal charges at the time carried a maximum fine of 10,000 British pounds (nearly $ 13,500).