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The Metropolitan Police has confirmed it will not investigate reports a party was held at Downing Street in May 2020 unless an internal investigation finds “evidence of behaviour that is potentially a criminal offence.”
In a statement the force said: “In line with the Met’s policy, officers do not normally investigate breaches of Coronavirus Regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place.
“However, if significant evidence suggesting a breach of the regulations becomes available, officers may review and consider it.”
The Met Police said it had “ongoing contact” with the Cabinet Office in relation to its internal inquiry into alleged parties held at Downing Street and the Department for Education which may have breached coronavirus restrictions.
“If the inquiry identifies evidence of behaviour that is potentially a criminal offence it will be passed to the Met for further consideration,” it stated.
It comes after ITV News revealed earlier this week that as many as 100 people were invited to a “bring-your-own-booze” drinks event in the Downing Street garden on 20 May 2020.
Boris Johnson was forced to apologise to MPs in the Commons yesterday after admitting he attended the gathering for 25 minutes.
Statement from the Met re: alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street and Department for Education. pic.twitter.com/ejDKawVCK6
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 13, 2022
The Prime Minister insisted, however, that he “believed implicitly” that the party “was a work event”.
“With hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside,” Johnson said on Wednesday.
“I should recognise that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way.”
No 10 had previously refused to comments on the details of the event, insisting that it was important to wait for the results of an internal inquiry led by senior civil servant Sue Gray.
Gray took over leading the inquiry from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case after it emerged that he himself may have been involved in a lockdown-breaching event.
Events set to be covered by the inquiry include the May 2020 party, as well as other gatherings at Number 10 on 27 November 2020 and 18 December 2020.
Another reported festive gathering at the Department of Education on 10 December 2020 will also be covered by the investigation.
Gray’s findings are expected to be published by the end of the month.
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