The Met police has decided not to issue more fines to Boris Johnson over partygate following a four month investigation that has cost £460,000.
Former chief prosecutor for north-west England Nazir Afzal is among those left stunned by the verdict reached by the Met police. Afzal said: “We’re left with the ridiculous conclusion that the prime minister ‘legally’ attended ‘illegal’ events.
“We know nothing of the reasoning behind the decisions. We do not know what culpability, if any, for example, the most senior civil servant in the land, Simon Case, has.
“We do not know whether the police on duty in Downing Street were aware and told to turn a blind eye, and by whom. We do not know why more serious offences such as ‘misconduct in public office’ weren’t considered or, if they were, why they haven’t been charged.
“They have merely confused us further.”
ITV News UK editor Paul Brand tweeted: “The PM wasn’t fined for the BYOB [bring your own booze] party for as many as 100+ staff with drinks and picnic food in the No 10 garden, among other things.
“When others were fined for far less, some of them may feel the Met’s investigation has not been totally fair.”
Director of the Good Law Project Jo Maugham tweeted: “On December 8th Boris Johnson promised Parliament: ‘It goes without saying that if those rules were broken, there will be disciplinary action for all those involved.’”
Met police investigation took 4 months and cost £460,000
The Met’s investigation – called Operation Hillman – took four months and is reported to have cost tax-payers £460,000. The force had previously said it was looking into 12 events over eight dates. But announcing the end of its investigation, the Met would only say that an unknown number of events on eight dates were found to have breached lockdown laws and that 126 fixed penalty notices had been issued to 83 people. The force would not confirm which events broke the law and which events did not.
Claiming its investigation was “thorough and impartial”, the Met added: “We will not be releasing or confirming the identity of anyone involved in this investigation or providing further details of our findings, in line with the approach we’ve taken throughout the pandemic.”
It was not naming those who received fines to the protect their privacy and identities, the Met said.
Acting commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir Stephen House – who took over after Dame Cressida Dick was forced out – is accused of a lack of transparency over the fines.
Sue Gray report
Attention has immediately shifted to Sue Gray’s report. A severely abridged version of the report was published in January, after the Met announced it would, after all, retrospectively investigate more than a dozen lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall. Their intervention delayed publication of the full report and tonight (May 19), the Telegraph reports that Gray is demanding the partygate key players are named in her full report, set to be released next week.
In her truncated report Gray was highly critical of what she called the “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”. Gray lacerated the drinking culture at Downing Street and Johnson – as well as his supporters in the cabinet – used it to claim he was determined to reform Downing Street and the rotten culture that had taken hold at the heart of government.
Despite Johnson’s claims, former insiders – not least the prime minister’s ex-chief spad and right hand man, Dominic Cummings – pointed the finger directly at Johnson as being central to the rotten culture.
Among senior figures who were taken down by the scandal are Johnson’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton who tearfully resigned after being filmed joking about a “cheese and wine” event that she did not attend. Johnson’s former director of communications Jack Doyle and his ex-chief of staff Dan Rosenfield were also sacrificed to save the prime minister.
Like Johnson, chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak was also fined for breaking lockdown laws and he, like Johnson, remains in place.