Boris Johnson was handed a police questionnaire on Friday over alleged breaches of Covid-19 lockdown guidelines, confirming he’s underneath formal investigation over the so-called “partygate” affair.
Quantity 10 declined to say what number of particular incidents the questionnaire associated to: Johnson is believed to have attended half of the 12 occasions being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
Johnson’s private lawyer acquired the police doc by electronic mail at 9.30pm on Friday night time and has seven days to answer; in observe he’s anticipated to be given till Monday, February 21 to finish it.
Sources near the investigation stated that greater than 80 questionnaires had been despatched as a part of the police probe, which covers events in Downing Road and throughout Whitehall throughout Covid lockdowns.
“We are able to affirm the prime minister has now acquired a questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police and can reply as required,” a Downing Road spokesman stated.
Sir John Main, former prime minister, stated this week he believed that Johnson had damaged Covid legislation and should give up if he was discovered to have misled parliament. Johnson advised MPs he had been assured there have been “no events”.
Johnson’s greatest hazard comes from the decision of Conservative MPs, if he’s discovered to have damaged his personal Covid guidelines.
Many Tory MPs are ready for the end result of the police investigation earlier than deciding whether or not to demand a vote of no confidence within the prime minister.
Johnson’s allies consider the variety of Tory MPs who’ve already submitted letters calling for a vote of no confidence has reached 40; a complete of 54 is required to set off a vote.
A senior ally of Johnson was reported by the Occasions as saying the police must be “very sure” that he had breached lockdown guidelines earlier than issuing him with a fixed-penalty discover. “There may be inevitably a level of discretion right here,” they stated. “Would you like the Metropolitan Police deciding who the prime minister is? They need to be very sure.”
The remark introduced widespread political criticism. Sir Bob Neill, Conservative chair of the Commons justice committee, careworn that “any suggestion of political strain on the police is totally reprehensible”.
Downing Road responded to the declare on Friday: “This authorities has all the time backed the police and totally respects their full independence to hold out inquiries with out worry or favour.”
Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister, tweeted: “A set-penalty discover can solely be given if the police fairly consider somebody has dedicated a prison offence underneath the coronavirus laws.”
Wagner stated this week the most certainly type of penalty to be issued by police could be fixed-penalty notices, with fines escalating for a number of offences.
“If he was given a fixed-penalty discover for every a type of, I feel that he could be given these kind of cumulative quantities till finally the ultimate one could be £6,400,” Wagner stated.
The Met is investigating no less than 12 occasions that will have breached lockdown guidelines. On Wednesday, it stated it was contemplating including a thirteenth occasion — a Downing Road Christmas quiz in 2020 — after an image emerged exhibiting an open wine bottle on the occasion.
Following Downing Road’s affirmation of receipt of the questionnaire on Friday night, the Metropolitan Police declined to answer questions on the whole variety of questionnaires despatched out within the inquiry, which it has dubbed Operation Hillman.
It additionally declined to disclose the variety of occasions over which the prime minister confronted questions.