UK Police Reviewing Decision Not to Investigate Christmas Quiz Party After New BoJo PHOTO Emerges
15:03 GMT 09.02.2022 (Updated: 17:38 GMT 09.02.2022)
UK opposition parties have been calling on police to launch an investigation into the Number 10 Christmas quiz held on 15 December 2020, when London was under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.
Scotland Yard is now reviewing its assessment that the Christmas quiz did not meet the threshold for criminal investigation after a bombshell picture has been published by The Daily Mirror showing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the party in December 2020 that is believed to have been held in violation of coronavirus restrictions.
“The MPS previously assessed this event and determined that on the basis of the evidence available at that time, it did not meet the threshold for criminal investigation. That assessment is now being reviewed,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
In the image, the prime minister is seen with three staff members, one of whom is wearing tinsel and another donning a Santa hat, and an open bottle of champagne on the table.
The event, which Downing Street described as a "virtual" quiz, was held on 15 December 2020. At the time, London was under Tier 2 restrictions, which banned two or more people from different households from meeting indoors. However, there was an exception for "reasonably necessary" gatherings for work purposes.
Official guidance also stated: “You must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier”.
As for the quiz, No 10 insisted that Johnson "briefly took part virtually" to thank staff for their work during the pandemic.
The prime minister has already been grilled about the photo at PMQs by Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who said: “It looks a lot like one of the Christmas parties he told us never happened”.
The MP then asked if BoJo would refer the event to police for investigation, citing the case of a constituent whose family was unable to visit her in hospital when she was undergoing treatment for a tumour
“That’s precisely the point. That event already has been submitted for investigation”, Johnson replied, expressing his sympathy for the woman. “I understand very much her feelings. But in what he has said just, I am afraid, he is completely in error”.
The Daily Mirror previously reported that the Christmas quiz was not one of the dozen gatherings under investigation by police. No 10 also said the event itself had already been considered by Scotland Yard, which decided not to investigate it further.
The police are examining potential law-breaking at 12 gatherings in Downing Street, three of which Johnson is known to have attended. A fourth event, in his Downing Street flat, is also being investigated. According to the Met, they have been handed over 300 photos of events in Downing Street and 500 pages of evidence.
A full report from senior civil servant Sue Gray, who was tasked with looking into potential rule-breaking, is also set to be released once the Metropolitan Police have finished their own investigation into the gatherings.
Gray's investigation was launched following media reports of multiple gatherings in either Downing Street or government departments since March 2020. She released her initial findings last week, saying, among other things:
There were "failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office" and "some of the events should not have been allowed to take place";
There was an excessive consumption of alcohol that "is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time";
"Some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify";
Some of the gatherings "represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time".