Boris cleared of further lockdown breaches - but Partygate accuser faces own investigation as Met probe two 'parties'

5 July 2023, 00:05 | Updated: 5 July 2023, 00:50

Boris Johnson has been cleared of further lockdown breaches at Chequers - the PM's country residence
Boris Johnson has been cleared of further lockdown breaches at Chequers - the PM's country residence. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The Metropolitan Police has reopened an investigation into alleged Covid breaches during a 'Jingle and Mingle' bash at Conservative Party HQ in December 2020.

The Met originally decided against investigating the alleged gathering, which former Tory mayor candidate Shaun Bailey organised.

But the police force's position has changed after fresh video evidence of the gathering emerged, as published by the Mirror.

The Met has also launched a fresh probe into a birthday party held for Baroness Jenkin, who is the wife of senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, in Parliament - also in December 2020.

Sir Bernard, who has not denied attending the alleged party, was one of the key members of the Privileges Committee, which found former Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled the House of Commons over Partygate.

Meanwhile, the Met said it will not investigate further alleged Covid rule breaches at Chequers - the Prime Minister's country residence - during Mr Johnson's time as PM.

Sir Bernard Jenkin
Sir Bernard Jenkin. Picture: Getty
Former Tory hopeful Shaun Bailey helped organised the gathering
Former Tory hopeful Shaun Bailey helped organised the gathering. Picture: Getty

A spokesperson for the police 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."

They continued: "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."

"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," they added.

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Mr Johnson resigned furiously quit as an MP after learning the Privileges Committee found he deliberately misled Parliament over Partygate.

The former prime minister labelled the Committee a 'kangaroo court', attacking its members - including chairwoman and Labour MP Harriet Harman.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley
Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley. Picture: Getty

The fresh evidence was described as "colourful" by Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley on Global's The News Agents podcast.

Sir Mark said in June: "We're not routinely opening every minor historic allegation. So, if you phoned up about your neighbour from three years ago, we're not going to reopen that.

"But clearly cases that are particularly serious, particularly concerning, we will do.

"As people know, that case has been previously looked at based on a photo. It's very obvious a video tells a much richer, clearer story than a photo. And so, the team are looking at that with a view to whether that provides a basis for further investigation.

"I think we can all we can all see the colourful nature of the video and how much it tells a story, way beyond the original photo.

"I need to let the team work through that. I think we can all guess which way it will go."

He said ‘the same procedures as before’ and ‘the same principles as before’ would be applied to the investigation.