Met refers itself to watchdog over No 10 Christmas partyon December 22, 2021 at 10:52 am

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There is a “case to answer” over an alleged Covid rule-busting gathering, says Green Party peer.

Downing Street

Image source, PA Media

The Met Police has referred itself to a police watchdog following a complaint about how it handled an alleged Christmas party in Downing Street during last year’s Covid restrictions.

The Green Party’s Baroness Jones argued that officers outside No 10 “must have known” if an unlawful gathering had taken place.

She suggested they may have “deliberately failed to enforce” rules.

The complaint has now been sent to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Last month, the Mirror newspaper reported that a Downing Street Christmas party had taken place on 18 December last year, when London was under strict coronavirus restrictions.

A source has told the BBC there had been food and drink and that the gathering had gone on past midnight.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry into the allegations about this and other gatherings, which is being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

The Met Police said it was not beginning an investigation into the allegations, “based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations”.

The statement added that the Met had spoken to the government about its own inquiry and that “if any evidence is found as a result of that investigation, it will be passed to the Met for further consideration”.

Baroness Jones

But Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb said police working outside No 10 controlled “all access to and from Downing Street”.

“Put very simply, if there was an unlawful gathering taking place at No 10 Downing Street, then the police must have known and were highly likely to have played an active part in organising or facilitating the illegal gathering,” she added.

“I believe there is a case to answer for the police aiding and abetting a criminal offence or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of government politicians and their staff.”

She also argued that Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick’s decision not to investigate the reported party represented “a potential cover-up”.

In response, Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O’Sullivan of the Met Police said he had referred the complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, “given that you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] police officers”.

“The IOPC will now make a determination as to whether the complaint needs to be investigated and, if so, how.”

Det Ch Supt O’Sullivan said he had referred the second part of Baroness’ Jones’ complaint – that the police commissioner had not investigated the allegation of a party in No 10 – to the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC) which sets the direction and budget for the Met.

An MOPC spokesperson said: “A complaint has been received and is under consideration.”

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