UK's Boris Johnson 'not questioned about two lockdown events'

Police accused of not investigating all parties PM attended during national pandemic lockdown

Departing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. AFP
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not sent questionnaires about two lockdown-breaking gatherings at Downing Street for which other attendees were fined, a campaign group has said.

Mr Johnson was not questioned by the Metropolitan Police over his involvement in the events, despite special investigator Sue Gray finding that he attended both, the Good Law Project said.

He received received a fixed-penalty notice over a birthday party he attended in the Cabinet Room in June 2020, but no other action over gatherings covered by the police Operation Hillman inquiry into events at Downing Street and Whitehall.

But senior civil servant Ms Gray found the prime minister gave a toast for departing communications chief Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, days after ordering England’s second national lockdown.

Images published in her report showed Mr Johnson raising a glass while surrounded by colleagues and bottles of wine.

He also gave a speech at an alcohol-fuelled leaving party for two Downing Street officials on December 17, 2020, with about 20 people in attendance, Ms Gray said.

The Good Law Project criticised police for continuing “to fail to provide any explanation of how they cleared the prime minister”.

The force issued 126 fines to 83 people at events in Downing Street and Whitehall, including others at the November 13 and December 17 gatherings.

“We don’t think the Met’s response is consistent with their legal duty of candour," the Good Law Project said.

"And we certainly don’t think it’s consistent with what the Met has elsewhere conceded is their public duty to maintain public confidence in policing.

“The public has a right to know what really went on inside the Partygate investigation. The Met’s actions have raised grave concerns about the deferential way in which they are policing those in power”.

The group vowed to proceed with a judicial review.

“The Op Hillman investigation has concluded and the MPS will not comment on investigative steps taken in the course of that investigation," Scotland Yard said.

“We can confirm that the MPS has filed submissions in response to an application filed at the High Court seeking a judicial review of decision-making pertaining to the Op Hillman investigation."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged the force to explain its decisions over Partygate.

The Met has also been asked to consider a Liberal Democrat complaint about its handling of the inquiry after the pictures emerged of Mr Johnson at the November 13 event for which he was not fined.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 8:51 PM
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