The Met and Thames Valley Police have assessed new material in relation to potential breaches of Covid Regulations in 2020 and 2021. The Met will be opening one investigation and re-opening a previous investigation.
The approach to the assessment of these events has been consistent, enforcing the law carefully, thoroughly, proportionately, impartially and without fear or favour.
The Met has previously published criteria for assessing when to launch investigations into breaches of the Regulations reported retrospectively.
We will do so only when there is evidence of a serious and flagrant breach and where:
It is proportionate and there is evidence that those involved knew or ought to have known what they were doing was an offence.
Not investigating would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law.
There is little ambiguity around the absence of a reasonable defence.
These criteria have also been used in the assessment made by Thames Valley Police of the potential breaches in their jurisdiction.
Having applied those criteria, the Met carried out a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of breaches of Covid Regulations at Downing Street and Whitehall, under Operation Hillman.
That investigation resulted in 126 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPNs) referrals.
The Met also previously carried out an investigation into an event in Matthew Parker Street on 14 December 2020.
Based on the information available at the time, that investigation did not lead to FPNs, but outcome letters sent to some participants stated that “the Metropolitan Police reserves the right to revisit this decision in the event that further significant evidence comes to light.” The receipt of video evidence has resulted in the Met revisiting and updating the assessment.
A number of other events were subsequently referred to the Met – and Thames Valley Police – with regard to Chequers.
Officers have now assessed these events against the serious and flagrant retrospective criteria for alleged breaches of Covid Regulations, with the following results:
Following assessment of new evidence that was not previously provided to officers, the Met is now re-opening an investigation into potential breaches of the Regulations at an event in Matthew Parker Street on 14 December 2020.
Following assessment of material relating to a gathering in Parliament, the Met is opening an investigation into potential breaches of the Regulations at an event on 8 December 2020.
The Met and Thames Valley Police have assessed material referred by the Cabinet Office regarding potential breaches of the Regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Downing Street and Chequers. Based on an assessment of that material and an account provided regarding the diary entries, and also having sought some further clarification, the Met and Thames Valley Police have each assessed the events in their jurisdiction and concluded that they do not meet the retrospective criteria for opening an investigation.
The Met and Thames Valley Police continue to reserve the right to revisit assessments in the event that further significant evidence comes to light.
It would not be appropriate to prejudge the outcome of those ongoing investigations or to provide a running commentary on their progress.
The Met will provide further updates at the appropriate time.
Tory MP Paul Bristow just made a point of order in the Commons rightly condemning the behaviour of Lloyd Russell-Moyle on the green benches last week. While Russell-Moyle has already apologised for failing to control his “passion” during his screed at Miriam Cates last week, his decision to then sit directly next to her on the Tory benches has also sparked outrage. Surely just a coincidence…
I’m so glad this creepy weird behaviour has been called out today. Not content with screaming abuse at my friend Miriam Cates after her speech on Wednesday, @lloyd_rm plonked himself onto the Conservative benches to intimidate her pic.twitter.com/cI7kFCRhI1— Laura Farris MP (@Laura__Farris) January 20, 2023
Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton also responded, although hedged her bets a bit by claiming “it is very difficult for me to know what was in the honourable gentleman’s [Russell-Moyle’s] mind” when he sat a yard away from the woman he’d just screamed at. Doesn’t seem that difficult to Guido…
This morning, Lloyd tweeted:
It is not uncommon at the end of a debate for people to sit at different seats while waiting to enter the chamber or the lobbies.
I had no concept that this was making any member feel awkward and would never do anything to deliberately intimidate anyone in or out of the chamber.
Guido will let observers decide whether Russell-Moyle’s seating decision was a mere coincidence…
Remarkable Commons scenes just now as deputy speaker Rosie Winterton named, and thus expelled, SNP MP Drew Hendry from the chamber. Hendry refused to resume his seat when instructed after shouting “Undemocratic” during a debate on the Internal Market Bill. In non-Covid times SNP MPs used to march out en masse…
Nominations close for the role of Deputy Speaker today, with the election being held tomorrow. Guido brought you the list of candidates last year…
Peter Bone, an underdog contender for the role, and has sent MPs a comedy video urging them to end his contribution from the backbenches by relegating him to the Speaker’s chair:
If my email of yesterday didn’t convince you to vote for me as Deputy Speaker, this should be the clincher, as if you vote for me tomorrow, you’ll never have to hear this again!
With very best wishes,
Bone clearly hoping he won’t come in Beethoven’s 5th…
Guido understands Rosie Winterton is the only Labour candidate standing is therefore guaranteed the second Deputy Speaker spot leaving two up for grabs for the likely five Tory candidates.
Nigel Evans has been picking up momentum, securing the support of Tracey Crouch, Carolyn Harris, and Angus MacNeil; as well as picking up a lot of support from the new ‘blue-collar Tories’ – including his former Parliamentary assistant Simon Fell who is now the MP for Barrow and Furness.
David Amess and Robert Goodwill have been campaigning for the role for a shorter amount of time, and are also considered underdogs in the contest.
Eleanor Laing meanwhile is pitching more for the Labour vote with Chris Bryant and Wes Streeting on board. She will have to overcome memories of messing up in the Chair as MPs were voting on the election bill last year. Laing appeared to have not understood there was no committee stage for the bill and attempted to accept an amendment from Chris Leslie – leading to the face of Bercow having to take over. It was all very awkward.
Voting takes place tomorrow, with the top three candidates (provided at least one is female, Labour, or both) winning the three Deputy Speaker roles…
The race to be the next speaker is formally on, with a number of candidates now openly campaigning. In truth many candidates have been quietly on the campaign trail for well over a year. Harriet Harman has the most sophisticated operation and the most support from the Labour benches. Another serious contender at this stage is Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. Harman took to the airwaves on The Today Programme to declare that she agreed with Bercow’s flagrant disregard for precedent…
Guido brings you the runners and riders to be the next speaker in full here…
Expect backroom dealings and grovelling campaigning over the next two months…
UPDATE: After putting his name about, Pete Wishart has sheepishly pulled out
UPDATE II: Election for the next speaker announced for 4th November
UPDATE III: Shailesh Vara (Con) has emailed MPs announcing he is also running for speaker, promising to be impartial and to address “everyone in a respectful and fair manner“.
— Labour Whips (@labourwhips) October 6, 2016
Reshuffle is on!