London’s Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the English police watchdog over claims that, during 2020, the force mishandled alleged parties in Downing Street that were in violation of Covid restrictions.
A complaint was formally made by the Green Party’s Baroness Jenny Jones, who claimed that officers stationed outside 10 Downing Street “must have known” an illegal gathering was taking place.
The complaint, which accuses the Met Police of having “deliberately failed to enforce” the rules, has been passed to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). The police watchdog will now decide whether to conduct a formal investigation.
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The decision by the Met Police to refer itself for investigation comes a month after it was reported that 10 Downing Street had breached lockdown restrictions by holding a party on December 18, 2020.The story, first reported by the Mirror newspaper, has been followed by further allegations that government officials held other parties that broke their own strict Covid restrictions.
The Met Police has itself refused to investigate allegations parties were held, claiming that there is an “absence of evidence” and its policy is “not to investigate retrospective breaches” of Covid restrictions.
A separate inquiry has been ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to investigate if the reported gatherings breached the rules.
The government’s inquiry was initially led by the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case until he stepped down from the role in the wake of reports he’d attended a drinks event himself in violation of lockdown rules. Senior civil servant Sue Gray has replaced Case in heading the inquiry.