Partygate: Police announce two investigations – but new Boris Johnson allegations not among them | UK News
Two investigations into partygate gatherings involving senior Tories have been announced by the Met Police.
One is a re-investigation into claims of a COVID rule-breaching party by staff of former Conservative London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, in December 2020.
In a press release, the force said: “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.”
That date is the same day that footage was taken showing workers on Mr Bailey’s 2021 London mayoral campaign dancing and mingling while the capital was in Tier 2 of COVID restrictions.
The force added: “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.”
That event was a birthday party held for Baroness Jenkin – wife of senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin – in Parliament on 8 December 2020.
Sir Bernard, who sits on the Commons Privileges Committee, which last month published a highly critical report about Boris Johnson, did not deny to reporters that he was in attendance at the event when the claims were first published by the Guido Fawkes website last month.
The Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley also said it had decided not to open an investigation into claims of rule-breaching parties at Downing Street and Chequers – the official country residence of British prime ministers – between June 2020 and May 2021.
These relate to 16 events “without any prior notice” and which were marked in Mr Johnson’s official diaries as prime minister.
The content of the diaries – which were requested by the COVID enquiry last month and are now the subject of a High Court battle – were referred to the police by the Cabinet Office.
Scotland Yard said that “based on an assessment of that material and an account provided regarding the diary entries” it had concluded that the events “do not meet the retrospective criteria for opening an investigation”.
Responding to the Met Police’s announcement, a Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Senior CCHQ staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of Matthew Parker Street organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of 14th December 2020.
“Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Shaun Bailey campaign.”
Mr Bailey previously apologised “unreservedly” after a video was published by the Sunday Mirror of his staff partying in lockdown and that he was “very upset” to see the footage.
Mr Bailey – who was running to replace Sadiq Khan in the 2021 London mayoral contest – had previously been pictured at the event but was not seen in the most recent footage.
Shaun Bailey apologises ‘unreservedly’ for staff-partying video
Tory party staff filmed drinking and dancing during COVID lockdown
Responding to the Met Police’s announcement, the Liberal Democrats called for Mr Bailey – who was nominated for a peerage in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours – to be prevented from taking up a seat in the House of Lords.
“Rishi Sunak needs to confirm he will call for honours to be stripped from anyone found to have broken the law,” said Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper.
“Anything less would make a complete mockery of his pledge to lead with integrity.
“He should also step in to stop Shaun Bailey from taking his seat as a peer while this investigation takes place.”
The Metropolitan Police previously issued 126 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPNs) referrals following a probe into claims of COVID rule breaching parties at Downing Street and Whitehall – an investigation named Operation Hillman.