Met Police issue statement following reports of Downing Street parties

The Met Police have issued a statement as the inquiry into Downing Street lockdown-breaking parties continues.

Scotland Yard said they are aware of widespread reporting relating to ‘alleged breaches’ at Downing Street and the Department for Education – but will wait until a Cabinet Office inquiry concludes before deciding whether to launch a criminal probe.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is is looking to establish ‘a general understanding of the nature’ of gatherings that took place and whether any ‘individual disciplinary action’ should be taken.

She is probing four events in 2020 which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is thought to have attended, including a garden party at No 10 on 15 May, the now-infamous ‘bring your own booze’ gathering on 20 May, aide Cleo Watson’s leaving do on 27 November and a Christmas quiz on 15 December.

On Wednesday Mr Johnson apologised to the nation for attending a “bring your own booze” gathering in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, when the rest of the country was under strict instructions to stay home.

Today (Thursday 13 January) Scotland Yard indicated it would wait to see if Ms Gray’s inquiry identifies evidence of potentially criminal behaviour before launching any investigation into the Downing Street and Whitehall parties.

Read more:Sir Jonathan Van-Tam’s top analogies as he steps down as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England

A statement released by the Met Police said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street and Department for Education on various dates and has received correspondence in relation to this reporting.

“Throughout the pandemic the Met has followed the national four Es approach of enforcing the Coronavirus Regulations.

“Where live ongoing breaches of the restrictions were identified, officers engaged with those present, explained the current restrictions, encouraged people to adhere to them, and only as a last resort moved to enforcement.

“In line with the Met’s policy, officers do not normally investigate breaches of Coronavirus Regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place. However, if significant evidence suggesting a breach of the regulations becomes available, officers may review and consider it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Question

“The Cabinet Office is conducting an inquiry into gatherings at Number 10 Downing Street and the Department for Education.

“The Met has ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office in relation to this inquiry. If the inquiry identifies evidence of behaviour that is potentially a criminal offence it will be passed to the Met for further consideration.”

Meanwhile, scores of MPs are calling for Boris Johnson to resign, with Tory William Wragg saying the PM’s position is ‘untenable.’

Mr Wragg told BBC Radio 4 yesterday (Wednesday 12 January) it would be ‘preferable’ for Mr Johnson to offer his resignation himself as MPs were ‘tired’ and ‘frankly worn out of defending what is invariably indefensible’.

He added: “I don’t believe it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the Prime Minister and indeed who governs this country. I think it is for the Conservative Party, if not the Prime Minister, in fact, to make that decision, and to realise what is in the best interest, so that we can move forward both as a party and a country.”

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