The Attorney General – essentially the government’s lawyer – arrived at No. 10 around an hour ago. Given the context of this morning’s Christmas Party scandal, it’s raised more than a few eyebrows. The government’s in a massive bind here – the longer they claim the party didn’t happen, the public anger will continue growing; the moment they admit it, we’re into police territory.
Guido’s been interested to see one legal interpretation doing the rounds, which would technically allow them to accurately say it was within the law, even if it was against the governance. Given No. 10’s on the Crown Estate, unless ministers explicitly said so the Covid lockdown regulations wouldn’t legally apply:
“… on or at promises, other than a private dwelling, which are –
(a) operated by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body,
(b) part of promises used for the operation of a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body.”
Yesterday Joshua Rozenberg told the BBC:
“If you look at section 73 of the Public Health Control of Diseases Act 1984 which is what the regulations were made under it seems to mean that they do not apply to government departments and other royal property unless ministers have actually taken the steps to say they do apply,”
Surely they wouldn’t try getting off the hook on this technicality…