UK Police to Probe Lockdown Parties at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Office
10:08 GMT 25.01.2022 (Updated: 13:06 GMT 25.01.2022)
Earlier, London police refused to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged breaches of COVID-related lockdowns at Downing Street.
British police will investigate reports of several parties that took place at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's residence and office during coronavirus lockdowns, London Police Chief said.
"I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations," Cressida Dick, the head of the Metropolitan Police, told a Greater London Assembly meeting.
UK police have submitted a formal request to the Cabinet Office to refer all relevant information concerning Downing Street gatherings, Dick said.
She also said that she understands the deep public concern about allegations in the media concerning parties during lockdowns.
19 January 2022, 15:54 GMT
Dick added that the investigation will follow the evidence given by the Cabinet office in the probe carried out by senior official Sue Gray. Her report on the violations of lockdown rules by the prime minister and members of his team was expected to be released later this week but will be delayed due to a police investigation, the Financial Times said.
"The investigation being carried out by Sue Gray is continuing...There is ongoing contact with the Metropolitan Police Service," a spokesperson for the government investigation said.
London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, from the opposition Labour party, praised the investigation, saying that compliance with the law is everyone's responsibility, including the prime minister.
I welcome confirmation the Met Police is investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street & Whitehall in the last two years regarding potential breaches of the law.— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) January 25, 2022
No one is above the law. There can't be one rule for the Government & another for everyone else. pic.twitter.com/hiBtnnuRBd
This comes amid a strong pressure Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been facing from some MPs and the general public over media speculations about a series of parties taking place at Downing Street back in 2020 when strict COVID-related lockdown was in place in England.
On Monday, Johnson faced another wave of criticism over his birthday party held inside his official residence in Downing Street on 19 June 2020. According to reports, the event was attended by over 30 people. Johnson argued that staff only gathered briefly to wish him a happy birthday and that he had remained in the room for less than 10 minutes.