MPS opens investigation into Downing Street parties
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Dame Cressida Dick, has revealed that her force has launched an investigation into parties held at Downing Street and Whitehall in breach of lockdown restrictions.
Speaking at the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee this morning (January 25), Dame Cressida said: “As a result firstly of 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.
“My officers have assessed several other events that appear to have taken place at Downing Street and Whitehall. On the available information, these other events are assessed as not reaching the threshold for criminal investigation.
“Throughout the pandemic the Met has sought, as I have said, to take a proportionate approach. I should stress the fact that the Met is investigating does not mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved.
“We will not be giving a running commentary on our current investigations, but I can assure you that we will give updates at significant points as we would normally do.”
The MPS has had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office in relation to its inquiry into allegations of gatherings. Throughout this process specialist MPS detectives, supported by senior officers, have continually considered whether criminal investigation into any of these events was proportionate based on the available information. In recent days the Cabinet Office has provided outline findings from its inquiry to the MPS.
Following detailed assessments of these outline findings the MPS has decided to open investigations into potential breaches of HPA regulations during events at Downing Street and Whitehall on a number of dates.
Where multiple events occurred on a particular date at a location, all the events on that date will initially fall within the remit of the investigation so that the full circumstances can be established. This does not mean that everyone who attended an event will be investigated.
The MPS has written to the Cabinet Office this morning with a formal request for it to refer all relevant information gathered from its inquiry in relation to events on the dates in question to support the police investigations.
Responding to the announcement, Labour’s London Assembly Policing and Crime Spokesperson, Unmesh Desai AM, Mr Desai said: “Londoners have rightly demanded more clarity over the Metropolitan Police’s position over the alleged breaches of lockdown rules at Downing Street and in Whitehall departments.
“I am pleased that in response to my question at today’s Police and Crime Committee meeting that the Met have confirmed that they will be investigating some of these incidents and will be providing updates at significant points.
“Whilst the Commissioner has said that the Met will not be providing a running commentary on the investigations, it is important that they maintain the right level of transparency throughout the process and I will be closely monitoring this from City Hall”.