Partygate: Met Police ‘assessing’ more alleged breaches of Covid rules at Downing Street and in Parliament

Investigations will be launched into alleged rule-breaking where there is “evidence of a serious and flagrant breach”
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The Metropolitan Police is assessing information and new material in relation to alleged breaches of Covid rules in 2020 and 2021.

Investigators are assessing events which include possible breaches in Downing Street, Chequers and in Parliament while restrictions were in force.

The force said investigations will only be launched into alleged breaches where there is “evidence of a serious and flagrant breach”, it is proportionate, those involved did know or ought to have known they were breaking the rules and there was little doubt around whether they had a reasonable defence.

It comes after a Mirror published a video of a party on 14 December, which shows staff dancing and appearing to joke about Covid restrictions. The BBC has also published a supposed invitation to the party, which was called "Jingle and Mingle" and described as a "the Shaun Bailey for London Holiday Party".

The Met said several events have been referred to the force which it is now in the process of assessing. These include:

  • Assessing material referred by the Cabinet Office to the Met and Thames Valley Police regarding potential breaches of the regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Downing Street and Chequers
  • Assessing a report to the Met on Thursday, 15 June regarding media reporting of alleged breaches in Parliament
  • Assessing video footage that was not previously provided to officers when investigating an event in Matthew Parker Street on 14 December 2020
Demonstrators as they protest outside the entrance to 10 Downing Street. Picture: OLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty ImagesDemonstrators as they protest outside the entrance to 10 Downing Street. Picture: OLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators as they protest outside the entrance to 10 Downing Street. Picture: OLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

The Met previously carried out an investigation into allegations of breaches of Covid Regulations at Downing Street and Whitehall, under Operation Hillman, which resulted in 126 Fixed Penalty Notice referrals, relating to 83 individuals.

The announcement comes after Michael Gove has said two Tories should keep the honours they were handed by Boris Johnson despite attending a pandemic-era gathering at which staff were filmed apparently joking about Covid restrictions.

The Levelling Up Secretary apologised over the footage of a Christmas event at Conservative Party headquarters said to have taken place on 14 December 2020 when indoor socialising was banned. But Gove said the former prime minister has a right to confer resignation appointments which should not be blocked.

The video of the party, which was attended by failed London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and Tory aide Ben Mallet – who will receive a peerage and an OBE respectively – has reignited criticism of Mr Johnson’s list. Bailey reportedly left the event before the video was taken and has previously apologised for his involvement.

At least 24 people were reportedly at the party which took place at Conservative Party headquarters on 14 December 2020, when indoor socialising was banned under Tier 2 restrictions.

Scotland Yard launched an investigation after the Daily Mirror published a picture of the gathering, but concluded that the photo by itself was not sufficient evidence to find an offence had been committed. The BBC has now published a apparent invitation, which describes the event as a "Jingle and Mingle" party.

CCHQ said “formal disciplinary action” was taken against four staff members, who were seconded to the London mayoral campaign of Shaun Bailey, over the “unauthorised” event. The failed candidate – who was handed a peerage by former prime minister Boris Johnson in his controversial resignation honours list – has previously apologised for the event.

The footage is likely to cause problems for Rishi Sunak, who is already battling to hold his party together amid a fallout over the report that found ex-PM Johnson lied about partygate, after drawing condemnation from opposition parties.

Conservatives should be “sick to their stomach” over footage

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said the footage shows Tories “openly mocked the rules the British people followed” while Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said it should make ministers “sick to their stomachs”.

“Revellers at this lockdown Tory booze-up openly mocked the rules the British people followed. The Tories think it’s one rule for them and one rule for everyone else,” Rayner said. “Instead of forcing them to face the consequences, Rishi Sunak has caved into Boris Johnson’s demands and chosen to reward them with honours.

“It’s a sickening insult. This Prime Minister is failing to deliver the integrity he promised and showing he’s too weak to turn the page on 13 years of Tory scandal.”

Cooper added: “Conservative MPs and ministers should be sick to their stomachs seeing this new Partygate footage. While families grieved and NHS staff worked on the front line, Conservative Campaign Headquarters partied.

“What’s worse is the current Prime Minister granted Boris Johnson’s request to give some of these people honours. There are thousands of families out there who deserve an apology for this scandal – Rishi Sunak should give them one immediately.”

CCHQ respond to the footage

A CCHQ spokesman said: “Senior CCHQ staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of Matthew Parker Street organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of 14 December 2020.

“Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Bailey campaign.”

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