Boris’ former PPS Martin Reynolds has been speaking to the Covid Inquiry today. Apart from saying Boris blew “hot and cold” on lockdown decisions, Reynolds apologised “unreservedly” multiple times for organising bring-your-own-booze parties at Number 10 despite what Lee Cain said posed a “rather substantial comms risk“. Hugo Keith KC wrote that “for the public whose loved ones were dying in their droves this caused incredible offence“. Reynolds: “As I say I’m deeply sorry for that“. Sobering…
Guido understands the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the Jenkins’ lockdown-breaking drinks party is proceeding with the Special Enquiry Team, who are contacting potential sources and witnesses this week. The Met launched their probe back in June, announcing they were “assessing information and new material” in light of alleged breaches in Parliament, including – as Guido first reported – the party held by Eleanor Laing to celebrate Anne Jenkin’s birthday in December 2020. Bernard Jenkin is still keeping schtum…
Guido hears detectives are now gathering new supplementary evidence, including WhatsApp transcripts. Ello, ello, ello…
Channel 4 is promising its upcoming Partygate dramatisation – yes, another Downing Street Covid drama – will be a “meticulously researched docudrama” which “takes viewers inside No 10”, as if there isn’t already a six-part series on Sky Atlantic which basically did the same thing. Almost the same thing…
While This England caked Kenneth Branagh with makeup that looked like he was having an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Channel 4‘s Partygate the True Story won’t feature Boris Johnson’s face at all. The show creators claim they took the “creative decision” to only show the back of his head whenever he appears on-screen. His voice will be provided by an impressionist. Groundbreaking television – this is the sort of thing that supposed to compete with the streaming giants…
A painfully awkward moment in the London Assembly today, as LibDem Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon quizzed Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley on the investigation into the “Shaun Bailey for London Holiday Party“… while Bailey himself, who remains a member of City Hall’s Police and Crime committee, was sitting just a few rows away from her.
Pidgeon was clearly in a mood to ruffle feathers, reminding Rowley about the new incriminating evidence of the “jingle and mingle save the date” invitations and a leaked video of the raucous event. Bailey said nothing, ashen faced as Caroline threw the cat among the pigeons…
Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Mark Rowley has just told the London Assembly his force will be poring through CCTV footage and photo evidence as part of their new probe into Bernard Jenkin’s lockdown drinks party in 2020. They’ll also be quizzing the partygoers. He pointed out just how many fines were issued last time…
“We’ve decided we are going to go forward with investigations, and so that will follow the same course as last time. We’ll collect all the evidence we can do, the CCTV, photos, et cetera. It will probably involve statements and questionnaires, and we’ll work our way through. And we’ll come to whatever the right judgements are in terms of tickets or prosecutions if necessary. As you’ll recall, the previous investigations… led to eighty-something people receiving tickets and fixed penalty notices.”
Ello, ello, ello…
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.