Police watchdog rejects 'invalid' Met complaint over No10 party allegations

21 December 2021, 20:22 | Updated: 22 December 2021, 19:51

The Met referred itself to the IOPC
The Met referred itself to the IOPC. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The police watchdog has decided it will not investigate a complaint over the Metropolitan Police's handling of an alleged Downing Street Christmas party, describing it as "invalid".

Following complaints regarding its handling of the alleged event on 18 December last year, Scotland Yard referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

After "having fully assessed the referral", the IPOC "decided it is invalid" and returned it to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to handle as "it determines would be appropriate".

Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb initially wrote to the watchdog to make the complaint, saying there is a "case to answer" over the Met, which has said officers had seen no evidence that could trigger an investigation.

It is claimed officials and advisers enjoyed a do which involved drinks and a Secret Santa event on December 18 last year, despite London being under coronavirus restrictions.

It is thought Boris Johnson did not attend. He has claimed he was under the impression that guidance has been followed but ordered an investigation.

Read more: Met Police will not investigate No10 'Christmas party' due to 'absence of evidence'

Lady Jones, a Green party peer, claimed there was an issue with the Met potentially "deliberately failing to enforce the law" over the alleged party.

She also referred to the "extensive" police presence at Downing Street.

The Met's Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O'Sullivan, directorate of professional standards, replied in a letter: "I have referred your complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct given that you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS police officers.

Read more: Police to 'make contact' with two people over alleged Covid breaches after Tory Xmas party

"The IOPC will now make a determination as to whether the complaint needs to be investigated and if so, how."

A second complaint has been spun off from Lady Jones' letter, because it refers to the Met's Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, with claims she "refused to investigate allegations of an unlawful gathering".

This has been referred to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.

The alleged party drew anger throughout the British public, leading to accusations that Government ministers were setting one rule for ordinary people and another for themselves.

Boris Johnson's Cop26 spokeswoman Allegra Stratton tearfully quit after footage leaked of her joking about a party with aides at a press conference rehearsal.

More claims about parties and gatherings taking place when the country, or London, was under Covid restrictions, have since been made.

A photo of Boris Johnson virtually appearing during a No10 quiz and an image of a gathering in the Downing Street garden during the first lockdown have been reported on.

Mr Johnson has claimed that was a work event.

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary who was leading the inquiry into claims of various allegations, stepped down from leading the investigation after claims emerged an event took place in his office, which he did not attend.