London, Jan 25 (EFE).- London’s Metropolitan Police Service on Tuesday said it would investigate “a number of events” that took place in Downing Street and other government buildings during Covid-19 lockdowns in the United Kingdom in 2020 and 2021.
The announcement heaps extra pressure on prime minister Boris Johnson, who has found himself at the heart of the so-called partygate scandal amid allegations in the media that Downing Street and government staff broke Covid-19 rules on several occasions to host parties and social gatherings.
Johnson has acknowledged his attendance at one such social gathering in Downing Street gardens in May 2020, although during his apology to the House of Commons he claimed he believed it was a work event.
ITV News on Monday reported that Johnson’s wife Carrie Johnson threw him a surprise birthday party on June 19, 2020, at Downing Street, in breach of Covid guidelines. The news outlet reported that 30 people attended the event.
The Met’s chief commissioner Cressida Dick said in a statement Tuesday that “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.”
The London police force had previously declined to investigate the allegations, leaving the job to an internal inquiry ordered by the government.
“The fact that we are now investigating does not, of course, 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,” Dick told the London Assembly.
An internal inquiry led by senior civil servant Sue Gray will continue, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said Tuesday.
However the findings of the Gray report, slated for publication this week, will likely be delayed until the Metropolitan Police investigation is completed, several UK media outlets reported.
The Labour Party-led opposition has called for Johnson to resign over the Downing Street party allegations. EFE