Pressure mounts on Met chief over decision not to investigate No10 party claims

9 December 2021, 11:28

Labour MP says it's strange police were unaware of No 10 party

By Asher McShane

Cressida Dick is facing mounting pressure over the Met's handling of the No10 Christmas party storm after an MP told LBC she should have demanded evidence into the allegations from the very beginning.

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Barry Gardiner told Iain Dale on LBC last night he was aware that the Independent Office for Police Conduct had received a complaint over the police's handling of the allegations.

Mr Gardiner said: "Cressida Dick should have insisted right at the beginning here there is prima facie evidence that a breach of the law took place.

"The ramifications from that breach are that people in this country don't know who to believe when the Prime Minister stands up there and says 'this is what I want for Plan B this Christmas.'

An MP told LBC Cressida Dick should have demanded evidence from the very beginning
An MP told LBC Cressida Dick should have demanded evidence from the very beginning. Picture: Alamy

"To undermine public trust, public confidence in the public health message that the government is giving is what has happened here."

The Met announced last night it will not examine the alleged Downing Street Christmas party despite the leaked video on Tuesday showing officials laughing about one.

Scotland Yard said an "absence of evidence" and a policy "not to investigate retrospective breaches" of Covid regulations meant it would not look into the allegation.

On Tuesday, the force said it was aware of the footage showing Allegra Stratton, the spokesperson for Boris Johnson, and aides talking about a party which ministers deny took place, insisting any event was within guidelines. London was in Tier 3 restrictions at the time.

Ms Stratton went on to quit her role yesterday evening.

In a statement, the Met said: "The Metropolitan Police Service has received a significant amount of correspondence relating to allegations reported in the media that the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations were breached at gatherings at No10 Downing Street in November and December 2020.

"All this correspondence has been considered by detectives in detail, as well as footage published by ITV News. The correspondence and footage does not provide evidence of a breach of the Health Protection Regulations, but restates allegations made in the media.

"Based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such Regulations, the Met will not commence an investigation at this time.

"The Met has had discussions with the Cabinet Office in relation to the investigation by the Cabinet Secretary. If any evidence is found as a result of that investigation, it will be passed to the Met for further consideration."

LBC has approached the IOPC to comment on this story.

Labour called for the alleged party to be investigated by the Met Police, with leader Sir Keir Starmer saying the leaked video indicates that the PM has "not been straight" about claims of a festive gathering, with some reports claiming it featured alcohol and "secret Santa" present-giving.

Labour backbenchers Neil Coyle and Mr Gardiner each wrote to Scotland Yard asking police to investigate reports that two parties were held in the run-up to last Christmas at a time when such gatherings were banned.