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Police watchdog urged to investigate Met’s partygate probe

The police watchdog has been urged to investigate Scotland Yard’s dealing with of the partygate investigation after footage emerged of Boris Johnson apparently consuming wine at a lockdown-busting occasion for which he was not fined.

Liberal Democrat deputy chief Daisy Cooper has written to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) calling for them to look at the Met’s Operation Hillman inquiry into occasions in No 10 and Whitehall.

Mr Johnson acquired a fixed-penalty discover (FPN) over a birthday celebration within the Cabinet Room in June 2020 however was instructed he would face no additional motion over different gatherings lined by the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Hillman inquiry.

Those included the November 13 2020 gathering to mark former spin physician Lee Cain’s departure from No 10, an occasion at which footage obtained by ITV apparently confirmed Mr Johnson elevating a toast and consuming wine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Henry Nicholls/PA)

(PA Wire)

The Met has issued 126 FPNs to 83 individuals at occasions in Downing Street and Whitehall, together with on November 13 2020, though the pressure has not stated whether or not fines had been particularly issued for Mr Cain’s leaving drinks.

The Metropolitan Police declined to clarify why the Prime Minister was not fined over the leaving occasion.

Ms Cooper stated: “The Met Police need to explain why Boris Johnson wasn’t fined for this event, despite being pictured in an apparent breach of the rules.

“If anyone else had been pictured at a party like this during lockdown, surely this would have been enough evidence for them to be fined.

“It does seem that there has been one rule for the Prime Minister and another for everyone else.

“The complete lack of transparency in this investigation risks doing huge damage to public trust.

“We need urgent clarity from the Met over why Boris Johnson wasn’t fined when others were.

“If the Met won’t set out the basis on which they made their decisions, then it’s absolutely right that they should face an investigation.”

The IOPC is unlikely to agree to her request as most complaints ought to be directed to the pressure accountable, with the watchdog often solely contemplating essentially the most critical instances, akin to these involving a demise or critical harm following contact with the police

Ms Cooper’s request is also ineligible as a result of complaints can solely be made by somebody who has straight witnessed an incident or is straight affected by it.

But the Met’s decision-making course of has additionally been questioned by attorneys, with the Good Law Project’s Jolyon Maugham suggesting he would take authorized motion.

“We have now had advice from our QC and junior,” he stated.

“We will be sending a further judicial review pre-action protocol letter to the Met in relation to the apparent failures in its investigation into the Prime Minister later this week.”

Barrister Adam Wagner, writer of a forthcoming e book on the coronavirus legal guidelines, stated that on the time of the November 13 occasion “it was illegal to ‘participate’ in a gathering if that gathering was not reasonably necessary for work”.

“Others got FPNs for this gathering so assume police considered it was illegal Why not the PM?”

He added it’s “impossible to understand how attending, raising a glass and making a speech wouldn’t be ‘participating’”.

A spokesman for London mayor Sadiq Khan stated the ultimate report of Sue Gray – the senior civil servant investigating lockdown violations in Whitehall – should be revealed in full.

“The mayor has always been clear that nobody is above the law and that those who broke the rules, at a time the public were being asked to make huge sacrifices, must be held accountable for their actions,” the spokesman stated.

“The mayor understands why Londoners are seeking clarity given these latest revelations. The details of the investigation are a matter for the Met Police and it would be wrong for the mayor – who oversees the Met as police and crime commissioner for London – to intervene in an inquiry investigating his political opponents.”

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