Downing Street Parties: Boris Johnson says it’s ‘entirely right’ that police investigate alleged parties

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The Met Police is investigating a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall over two years

Boris Johnson has signalled he is willing to speak to police investigating multiple allegations of Downing Street parties breaching coronavirus regulations but believes he has not broken the law.

Downing Street acknowledged aspects of Sue Gray’s Cabinet Office inquiry that touch on potentially criminal acts will be paused after the Metropolitan Police announced on Monday that officers had launched an investigation.

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The Prime Minister thinks it is “entirely right” for Scotland Yard to investigate and insisted that anyone required “will fully cooperate” with officers, No 10 said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement in the House of Commons, after it was announced Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall.Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement in the House of Commons, after it was announced Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement in the House of Commons, after it was announced Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall. | PA

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said on Tuesday officers were now investigating potential offences over two years after being passed information from the Sue Gray inquiry.

At a glance 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson said it is “entirely right” for the Met Police to investigate allegations relating to parties at Downing Street
  • Johnson’s spokesman said the Prime Minister didn’t believe he had broken the law
  • The PM “fully acknowledges the public’s anger” over what has been reported
  • Urgent questions were asked in the House of Commons over the matter
  • Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner said “potential criminality” in Downing Street was a “damning reflection on our nation’s very highest office”

What has the Prime Minister said?

Updating the Commons on the inquiry, Mr Johnson said: “That process has quite properly involved sharing information continuously with the Metropolitan Police, so I welcome the Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters.”

Asked if Mr Johnson is willing to be interviewed by officers, his spokesman responded: “Anyone asked to will cooperate fully as you would expect.”

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Asked if the Prime Minister thinks he has not broken the law, the spokesman said: “I need to be cautious about what I say but I think that’s fair to say that he does not.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Firstly, the Prime Minister thinks it is entirely right for the police to investigate these matters.

“He commissioned the Cabinet Office to establish the facts and, as set out in the published terms of reference, and as the (Met) Commissioner has said this morning, the independent process has always involved the sharing of information with the Met and the ability for the Met to take forward and investigate matters pertaining to the law, as is right.

“The PM fully acknowledges the public’s anger and concern about what has been reported, he has taken responsibility for his judgments made and it is right the Met should be now given the time and space to undertake their investigations.

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“It will provide the public with welcome clarity and help draw a line under these events and everyone required will fully co-operate in any way they are asked.”

Downing Street said Mr Johnson knew about the police investigation before convening his Cabinet on Tuesday morning, but that he did not raise it during the meeting.

Asked why the Prime Minister did not inform his top team, his spokesman stressed that Mr Johnson judged it important “not to pre-empt a police statement”.

“I think it’s understandable that, given the sensitive nature of what the Met were due to announce, it’s right that wasn’t pre-empted in any way,” the spokesman added.

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The opening of the investigation seems set to further delay the long-awaited publication of at least major elements of senior civil servant Ms Gray’s inquiry into the saga.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that it “won’t publish anything that relates to the work of the police” but can continue to work on allegations that do not reach the police “threshold”.

Discussing the events the police are investigating, the spokesman said: “I think under the terms of reference that work (for the Gray inquiry) pauses, I don’t know what that means once the Met Police’s investigation concludes, whether they return to them and continue.”

What was said in the House of Commons about the investigation?

During an urgent question in the House of Commons, deputy leader of the Labour Party told the House of Commons “potential criminality” in Downing Street is a “truly damning reflection of our nation’s very highest office”.

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Angela Rayner referred to the terms of reference of the Sue Gray inquiry, which says that any evidence of criminality will be referred to the police.

Ms Rayner said: “It seems potential criminality has been found in Downing Street. What a truly damning reflection on our nation’s very highest office.

“So I ask the minister, given this morning’s announcement when will the Sue Gary report finally be published?”

She also said: “All too soon the minister and I find ourselves here once again rather than dealing with the cost of living crisis impacting on families, we are talking about scandals in Downing Street again.”

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To jeers from the Government benches, she added: “The members opposite can chunter from their positions but they are allowing this to happen.”

“Two months now cabinet ministers have been working hard to make Sue Gray the most famous woman in Britain. In response to every question asked about the poor conduct, bad behaviour and rule breaking culture that this government has seen the ministers have repeatedly told us that Sue Gray is the answer.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis said of Sue Gray’s investigation into Downing Street parties: “There is ongoing contact between the Cabinet Office investigation and the Metropolitan Police Service, however, the Cabinet Office investigation will continue its work.

“I would urge the House to wait for the findings of that investigation and for the police to conclude their work. That is important to allow the work to take place unimpeded and to protect the rights of all involved.”

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Mr Ellis added: “I can confirm that the findings of the investigation will be provided to this honourable House and made public.”

This article will continue to be updated throughout the day

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