PM 'confident' he did not break the law over Partygate, minister tells LBC

21 March 2022, 17:09 | Updated: 21 March 2022, 18:55

By Megan Hinton

Conservative co-chairman Oliver Dowden has told LBC Boris Johnson is "confident" he did not break the law over alleged lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.

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Speaking to LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Dowden said the Prime Minister was "resolutely clear" he would not receive a fine from the Metropolitan Police.

When asked if Mr Johnson would resign if he was found to have broken the law, the Tory co-chairman said: "The Prime Minister is actually absolutely resolutely clear that he is not going to be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice because he is confident that he has not broken the law, so therefore I don't think that situation will arise... I'm not going to get into hypotheticals because actually the PM's pretty clear that he's obeyed the law."

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He also reiterated Mr Johnson would release the full, unredacted Sue Gray report once the Met investigation concludes.

"The process is ongoing and we've had both a response from the Prime Minister before and indeed he's already said that we will get the full Sue Gray report and everything else," he said.

He also told Andrew the Prime Minister was more focussed on other issues including the conflict in Ukraine and the UK's cost of living crisis.

"That is not where his mind is," he said.

"I've been spending an awful lot of time discussing Ukraine, cost of living... we are genuinely getting on with the job with dealing with that, and that's where our focus is."

Scotland Yard have announced earlier they had begun to interview "key witnesses" linked to allegations of breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Downing Street and Whitehall, known as Operation Hillman.

A statement released on behalf of the Metropolitan police said: "To date, over 100 questionnaires have been sent out asking the recipients about their participation in alleged gatherings.

"The questionnaires provide recipients with the opportunity to give an account of their involvement and the responses form part of the investigative material for the operation."

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Recipients of the official questionnaires are given seven days to respond.

With the Met stating: "As a result of responses so far, further individuals have been identified and questionnaires sent to them. As the investigation continues, we may need to contact more people as further information comes to light."

As of yet, the force have not made any referrals to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices., but they confirmed they "are progressing the investigation as quickly as possible".

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Boris Johnson was among the original 50 people, handed a questionnaire to complete by the Metropolitan Police.

It comes after, it was revealed that staff member will be allowed to view notes on the evidence they gave to the Sue Gray inquiry, before they respond to police questions.

This includes the Prime Minister but it is understood access to the inquiry material will be limited to information gathered during their own interviews, and no-one else's.

The Met confirmed the number of fines issued for alleged lockdown breaching parties in Downing Street and across Whitehall will be made public.

Scotland Yard is also expected to publish its reasons for issuing any fixed penalty notices (FPNs), according to an advice sheet said to have been distributed to officials by the Cabinet Office.

However the names of those who receive FPNs will not be included in any documents and will not be shared with the Civil Service.