Met Police given more than 300 photos in Partygate investigation

31 January 2022, 16:53 | Updated: 31 January 2022, 17:40

The Met has received hundreds of images in its Partygate investigation
The Met has received hundreds of images in its Partygate investigation. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Met is confirming who it wants to speak to over its Partygate probe – and has been handed more than 300 images and 500 pages of information.

The force said last week it would open its own investigation into alleged Covid rule-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, after previously saying it would not look into historic claims of breaches.

A stripped-down update into Partygate was released earlier on Monday by senior civil servant Sue Gray, which was damning of the leadership and culture at No10.

But the Met has launched its own investigation, which has impacted Ms Gray's own findings.

The force said on Monday it had been inundated with information as part of its probe.

Read more: Boris' birthday bash and Cummings' exit celebrations among 12 parties probed by police

Read more: Read it in full: Sue Gray's much-anticipated Partygate report

"Having received the documentation from the Cabinet Office on Friday 28 January, we are now reviewing it at pace to confirm which individuals will need to be contacted for their account," a statement from Scotland Yard said.

"This prioritisation will include reviewing all the material from the Cabinet Office, which includes more than 300 images and over 500 pages of information.

"If, following an investigation, officers believe it is appropriate, because the Covid regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice would normally be issued.

"Once the penalty is paid, the matter is considered closed. Alternatively individuals may decide to dispute the notice. In these circumstances officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in a magistrates' court."

The Met also confirmed it is investigating events alleged to have taken part on eight dates: 20 May 2020; 18 June 2020; 19 June 2020; 13 November 2020; 17 December 2020; 18 December 2020; 14 January 2021; 16 April 2021.

Police had asked Ms Gray to make "minimal reference" to those events in her report – effectively watering down her findings into what was published earlier today.

The update was still highly critical. It said "some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify" given how England had either been in lockdown or some form of restrictions when they took place.

Ms Gray found "failures of leadership and judgement by different parts of No10 and the Cabinet Office at different times" and that some events "should not have been allowed to take place" or "develop as they did".

Boris Johnson apologised to MPs in the House of Commons shortly after the update was published, saying he would make reforms to how Government works.

But he signalled his intention to continue in office despite further calls for him to resign, saying his Government could be trusted "to deliver".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the PM should go, but wouldn't because he is a "man without shame".

Ex-minister and Tory MP Andrew Mitchell said, having backed Mr Johnson before, he no longer enjoyed his support.