Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has bowed to growing pressure to investigate alleged blockade violations around Downing Street and Whitehall, saying her forces are investigating “several” parties.
Dick said at a hearing in the London Assembly that Met had acted after receiving information from the cabinet where Sue Gray, a senior official, was investigating the parties.
“I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of events on Downing Street and Whitehall over the past two years in connection with alleged violations of Covid-19 regulations,” she told the committee.
She added that the forces were investigating several other incidents that appeared to have taken place on Downing Street and Whitehall, but decided that those incidents had not reached the threshold of a criminal investigation.
Gray’s investigation into the so-called partygate scandal has been delayed due to the announcement of an investigation that was due to end in the coming days. A senior Whitehall official said “it will not be published this week.”
A cabinet spokesman said: “Sue Gray’s investigation is ongoing. He is in constant contact with the Sofia Police Service. “
Those familiar with the investigation said Gray would consider allegations surrounding Johnson’s birthday party on June 19, 2020.
The party, during the first blockade of Covid-19 in England, was “almost certainly very unreasonable”, said a cabinet minister loyal to the UK prime minister.
But Grant Shaps, the transport secretary, said the party was organized by Downing Street staff as a surprise event as he tried to pull Johnson out of recent criticism for alleged violations of blocking rules.
Shaps is one of a number of ministers loyal to Johnson who have tried to downplay the cabinet event in June 2020, first reported by ITV News and confirmed by the Financial Times.
Indoor social gatherings were banned during the party. Shaps said there were fewer than 30 people reported to have attended the event, which Downing Street said attended Johnson in less than 10 minutes.
Asked why interior designer Lulu Little, who oversaw the transformation of Johnson’s apartment on Downing Street, was present, Shaps said she was not invited and “accidentally came” during the party.
The transport secretary said that on the brink of war between “two mechanized nations in Europe” – a reference to Ukraine and Russia – he regretted that “he should talk about our events and interpretations” of the “party” and not more important issues. .
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, a former Labor prime minister, told ITV that blatant violations of Johnson’s blockade were a “moral issue.” He said: “I could not go to the funeral of a very close relative last year at the same time.”
Johnson’s supporters are trying to boost support among lawmakers ahead of Gray’s report. A total of 54 Tory MPs are needed to provoke a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.