The Metropolitan Police has today confirmed it will investigate a series of parties that took place at No.10 and other government buildings during coronavirus lockdowns in the last two years.
Civil servants, special advisers and the prime minister are all alleged to have broken rules by attending events that broke of Covid-19 rules and regulations put in place by the government.
Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick said officers will investigate “a number of events” where Covid lockdown rules were allegedly broken but not all parties reported in the media.
She said: "I absolutely understand there is deep public concern about the allegations that have been in the media over the last several weeks.
"Many people including many Londoners, and indeed my colleagues have made huge sacrifices and they've suffered considerable loss during the pandemic.
“As a result of the information provided by the Cabinet Office inquiry team and, secondly, my officers' own assessment, 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."
Dick’s announcement prompted questions over whether Cabinet Office second perm sec Sue Gray’s probe into rule-breaking Whitehall events would be published while the Met’s criminal investigation is under way. The Cabinet Office had not responded to Civil Service World's request for confirmation at the time of publication.
Asked why Scotland Yard had not investigated reports of No 10 parties until now, Dick said it is not uncommon for the Met Police to wait for the Cabinet Office to carry out inquiries, even with the most serious incidents.
“We have a long-established and effective working relationship with the Cabinet Office, who have an investigative capability,” she added.
Until now the police have repeatedly rejected calls for an investigation to launch, saying there was not enough evidence and it is not policy to retrospectively look into Covid breaches.
Campaigning organisation the Good Law Project had threatened legal action if the police did not launch an investigation.
Dick said the Met “police without fear or favour”.
She would not confirm how many parties will be investigated but said some of the events publicised in the media had not breached the threshold for criminal investigation.
Anyone found to have broken the Covid rules could be handed a fixed penalty notice but Dick said fines will not necessarily be issued to each person involved or for each alleged event.
She said she could not give a timescale for how long the investigation will take and the Met Police would not give a running update would update the public at “significant moments”.