LONDON (AP), — London police stated Tuesday that they are investigating Downing Street lockdown parties for 2020 in order to determine if U.K government officials have violated coronavirus restrictions. This puts more pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Metropolitan Police Service launched an inquiry into “a variety of events” at Downing Street, because they met the criteria of the force for investigating “most serious or flagrant” violations of COVID-19 rules. Commissioner Cressida Dim told the London Assembly, London’s local government council, that the Metropolitan Police Service had opened the inquiry.
Johnson faces calls to resign after revelations that he and staff attended parties during the winter and spring 2020, when most social gatherings were prohibited in England. This meant that average citizens missed weddings, funerals, and birthdays while close friends and family died in hospital. A senior civil servant Sue Gray is already investigating the gatherings. Her report, due this week, will help determine whether Johnson can stay in power.
Gray’s investigation will continue, according to the Cabinet Office. Gray’s investigation was confirmed by the Cabinet Office, but it was not immediately clear if Gray would need to delay the release of her findings due to the police investigation.
Johnson apologized for his attendance at a party in the Downing Street office’s garden in May 2020. However, he said that he considered the event a work gathering and fell within the social distancing rules.
ITV News reports that Johnson hosted a birthday party at Downing Street and then invited friends to his official residence upstairs in June 2020. His office said that Johnson hosted a few family members outside, in accordance with current rules.
Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, welcomed the police investigation.
Khan stated in a statement that “the public rightly expects the police to uphold law without fear and favor, regardless of who it involves,” Khan stated that no one is above the law. There can’t be one rule that applies to the government and another for everyone.
Police were previously criticised for suggesting they wouldn’t investigate “partygate” because they don’t routinely investigate historical violations of coronavirus regulations.
Dick stated to the assembly that an investigation is warranted in this instance because there are evidence that the defendants knew or should have known what was happening. Not investigating would “significantly undermine” the legitimacy of law and there appears to be no reasonable defense.
She stated, “So in those instances, where these criteria were met. The guidelines suggested that we should potentially explore further and end up giving tickets to people.”
Fixed penalty notices were issued at that time with a maximum fine amounting to 10,000 Pounds (nearly $13,500).