Police rule out probe into Downing Street Christmas party due to ‘absence of evidence’

Just 12% polled think Mr Johnson is being honest

Police in London said they will not investigate an alleged lockdown-breaking party at Number 10 Downing Street.  (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS  /  AFP)
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Police in London will not investigate a lockdown-breaking Christmas party alleged to have been held at Downing Street last year due to an “absence of evidence”.

Labour MPs had written to the Metropolitan Police, the city’s force, asking them to prove the gathering understood to have taken place on December 18 while London was under Tier 3 restrictions, which banned social events.

Following days of news reports about the bash and a leaked video which showed a Number 10 aide joking about the rules being broken, officers released a statement to say no action would be taken.

It came after Mr Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday that he was “furious” when he saw the leaked footage and had ordered his cabinet secretary to conduct an internal investigation.

“The Metropolitan Police Service has received a significant amount of correspondence relating to allegations reported in the media that the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations were breached at gatherings at No 10 Downing Street in November and December 2020,” the force said.

“All this correspondence has been considered by detectives in detail, as well as footage published by ITV News.

“The correspondence and footage does not provide evidence of a breach of the Health Protection Regulations, but restates allegations made in the media. Based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations, the Met will not commence an investigation at this time.”

However, the Met left the door open for an investigation to be launched further down the line if No 10’s probe unearths any evidence that the party was held.

“The Met has had discussions with the Cabinet Office in relation to the investigation by the cabinet secretary If any evidence is found as a result of that investigation, it will be passed to the Met for further consideration,” the force added.

Pressure is piling on Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide answers about the alleged party and he is facing calls to resign. He has not denied that a party took place at Number 10, only saying that Covid rules were abided by at all times.

Allegra Stratton became the first casualty of the affair when she emotionally stood down on Wednesday afternoon after a video emerged of her and other advisers joking about a “fictional” party where guests were served cheese and wine.

The scandal has dealt a serious blow to the Prime Minister’s authority and the government has been warned it has lost public trust.

A poll for Sky News showed just 12 per cent of participants think Mr Johnson is being honest about the party. Labour has said he “lied regularly and repeatedly” about the festive gathering.

On Wednesday night the Conservative party admitted an event organised by Shaun Bailey’s London mayoral campaign took place in the party’s Westminster headquarters on December 14 last year while the capital was in Tier 2 restrictions.

According to The Times, the “raucous” party was held in the HQ’s basement, was attended by No 10 aides and featured dancing and wine-drinking into the early hours despite indoor social mixing being banned at the time.

On Wednesday the Prime Minister imposed his “Plan B” set of coronavirus restrictions, saying they are necessary to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. The new rules include facemasks in cinemas and theatres, working from home orders and vaccine passports in nightclubs.

On Wednesday Health Secretary Sajid Javid was heckled by Conservative MPs amid a backbench rebellion against the government over the new measures and the alleged Christmas party.

Setting out the Plan B rules in the Commons, Mr Javid was told to “resign” by senior Tory MP William Wragg when he confirmed vaccines passports would be introduced at mass gatherings and nightclubs.

Others on the backbench were scathing in their criticism of the government’s decision to tighten rules, shouting “rubbish” and “what a load of tripe” as Mr Javid made his speech.

Updated: December 09, 2021, 8:26 AM