The Hound

A police officer guards the door of 10 Downing Street

Met police launches Downing Street party investigation

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The Metropolitan Police is probing “a number” of parties that took place in Downing Street and Whitehall, Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has confirmed.

Speaking to the London Assembly, Dick said that Scotland Yard had unearthed enough evidence from the Cabinet Office to begin a formal investigation.

Scotland Yard had previously stated that it was not the force’s policy to retrospectively look into breaches of coronavirus guidance.

Dick said they would do so only if there was a “serious and flagrant type of breach” with sufficient evidence, or when those involved “knew or ought to have known that what they were doing was an offence”.

However, the Met has been unable to resist pressure following reports of as many as 19 illicit gatherings involving government officials during the pandemic.

She said: “As a result of the information provided by the Cabinet Office and my officers own assessment, I can confirm the Met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing St and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to breaches of Covid 19 regulations.”

The announcement means that fixed penalty notices could be handed out to those who were found to have breached the rules – including, potentially, the Prime Minister.

A senior Whitehall source has suggested that the investigation will delay the publication of civil servant Sue Gray’s report into lockdown-busting parties.

WESTMINSTER, LONDON,UK. 12 January 2022. Two women wearing masks of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Symonds Johnson set up a mock rule-breaking garden party in Parliament Square as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces media and public scrutiny surrounding a (BYOB) Bring Your Own Booze lockdown party on 20 May 2020. at a time of strict coronavirus restrictions.

Boris birthday: Happy implicit work event to you

Boris Johnson’s plan to move on from the party row has been torpedoed after he was accused of celebrating his 56th birthday party during the first lockdown. It seems there was a cake, and collective singing indoors at a time when such activities were banned.

Remember, that’s when choirs were silent, pubs were shut and millions of lonely Britons were confined by government order. A time when Britons were effectively prohibited from meeting friends and relatives.

Number 10 has attempted to present previous gatherings as implicit “work events” (when there was no such thing within the rules). That will be trickier this time. It was a birthday party. Happy implicit work event to you, dear Prime Minister.

ITV News broke the latest news, saying the Prime Minister had a birthday bash in Downing Street, hosted by his wife Carrie Johnson, on 19 June 2020 despite coronavirus rules at the time forbidding social gatherings. Several days earlier, Johnson pleaded with the public “to show restraint and respect the rules which are designed to keep us all safe”.

The PM was reportedly presented with a cake, as Carrie led up to 30 staff to sing a chorus of “Happy Birthday”. Among the attendees was Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind the controversial recordation of the Number 11 flat.

The revelation adds to the list of illicit parties during the pandemic under investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray. Johnson, when commenting on the BYOB garden party on 20 May 2020, said “nobody told me” it was “against the rules”, despite him signing them off.

At the 19 June party, did he know it was his own birthday?

Cummings

Cummings submits evidence on Downing Street parties

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Dominic Cummings has quashed reports that he is being interviewed by inquisitor-in-chief Sue Gray over allegations of illicit parties during lockdown, saying he has answered questions in writing to not “provide the PM with more chances to lie and confuse everybody”.

In a newsletter to Substack subscribers, Cummings wrote: “I know others are v worried about handing things to the Cabinet Office because they know the PM will see everything SG [Sue Gray] collects.

“This inevitably means that evidence, including photos, is not given to her & instead will keep leaking after her report.”

One question on people’s lips is whether Dom is deliberately avoiding a request by Gray to be interrogated or that is acting as he is to ensure the “full facts” of the report are established

Cummings added: “Other damaging stories will come out until he [Boris Johnson] is gone. It’s clear talking to people in No 10 and 70 Whitehall that many officials are desperate to shove the kunlangeta off the ice this week.”

The former Downing Street special adviser also revealed that he will be hosting an “Ask me anything” Q&A following the publication of Gray’s highly-anticipated report.

Popcorn at the ready in what is set to be a box office week in Westminster.

You can subscribe to the Cummings email at https://dominiccummings.substack.com/.