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Sue Gray’s investigation into alleged lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street has been told about messages from the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson offering to organise a cake for a gathering in June 2020, it has been claimed.

The civil servant’s investigation into the gathering is set to be published in redacted from next week after the Metropolitan Police was accused of a ‘stitch up’ for demanding some details be censored while it conducts a criminal probe.

Tories, lawyers, bereaved families and ex-officers have joined a furious backlash after police confirmed they have told the Cabinet Office the long-awaited document should feature ‘minimal reference’ to lockdown breaches that might be criminal.

And Ms Gray herself is said to be ‘furious’ after Scotland Yard told her not to publish key aspects of her report.

After a day of chaos yesterday, the Met issued a statement confirming that it had received evidence from the civil service, but insisting that it is not seeking to delay the publish the report.

However the force doubled down on its demand for redactions, saying: ‘In order to protect the integrity of the police investigation, as is appropriate in any case, and to be as fair as possible to those who are subject to it, the Met has asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report to the relevant events.

The Partygate investigation is looking into an exchange between the Prime Minister’s wife, 33, and at least one other senior official after she offered to bring a cake to an allegedly lockdown-breaking birthday party for Boris Johnson, according to The Telegraph.

The row came as: 

  • The police revealed that suspects would be asked to give evidence in writing, undermining claims that the PM could face an interview under caution; 
  • The Met warned it would consider taking offenders to court if they refused to pay fines handed out by officers; 
  • Downing Street risked angering Tory MPs by playing down hopes of delay to the planned hike in national insurance; 
  • Mr Johnson prepared for talks with Vladimir Putin next week in which he will warn the Russian president he faces a heavy price if he invades Ukraine;
  • The PM was said to have told wavering MPs he is ready to scrap plans to ban junk food ads in return for their support.

The partygate investigation is now said to be looking into an alleged exchange between the Prime Minister’s wife (pictured), 33, and at least one other senior official after she reportedly offered to bring a cake to a birthday party for Boris Johnson

The Sue Gray inquiry has been told that Mrs Johnson instigated Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday party during the first lockdown in June 2020, according to the publication. 

Officials involved in the Partygate investigation are believed to be looking into an exchange between Mrs Johnson and at least one other senior official, in which she allegedly asked the official to get staff together for the gathering, which was attended by up to 30 people.

It is believed that Mrs Johnson also confirmed that she would personally organise a cake to celebrate the occasion during the alleged exchange. 

But it is claimed that Mrs Johnson did not end up buying or bringing the cake to the alleged lockdown-breaking gathering, while insiders who attended the gathering reportedly claim that Mrs Johnson organised the party.

Downing Street previously denied that she had organised the gathering while allies of Mrs Johnson are believed to have claimed that a No 10 official was behind the event, according to reports.

Downing Street refused to comment on the claims last night due to the ongoing inquiry.

It is understood that Mrs Johnson has not been interviewed so far, but the alleged messages raise the prospect that she could be asked to give evidence to Ms Gray’s team or the Metropolitan Police, which is now investigating a number of alleged lockdown breaches at Downing Street.

It comes after Mr Johnson reportedly told ministers and allies that there was no cake at the gathering, despite previous reports appearing to confirm that Mr Johnson was given a Union flag cake. 

When asked to clarify if there was a cake, the Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters: ‘You will know what we said earlier this week on the matter that a small number of staff briefly came into the Cabinet Room on the PM’s birthday.

‘Beyond that I can’t comment further. There’s an independent investigation ongoing by Sue Gray and the Cabinet Office.’

It is claimed Mrs Johnson instigated the June 2020 gathering by asking the official to get staff together to celebrate her husband's (pictured) 56th birthday, while she also said she would organise the cake

It is claimed Mrs Johnson instigated the June 2020 gathering by asking the official to get staff together to celebrate her husband's (pictured) 56th birthday, while she also said she would organise the cake

It is claimed Mrs Johnson instigated the June 2020 gathering by asking the official to get staff together to celebrate her husband’s (pictured) 56th birthday, while she also said she would organise the cake

Pressed on why the Prime Minister had told ministers this week there had not been a cake, he added: ‘I’m not getting into the details of private conversations.’

Elsewhere, Ms Gray is understood to be furious after the Metro Police admitted it had asked for only ‘minimal references’ to the No 10 ‘parties’ at the centre of the row to be in her report.

The senior civil servant was said to have been angered by Scotland Yard’s intervention, after she shared details of her investigation with the force throughout her inquiry, according to The Times

On Friday evening, the Met Police confirmed they have the evidence from the Cabinet Office, but doubled down on their stance that the report should be redacted in a bid ‘to protect the integrity of the police investigation’. 

Commander Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, said: ‘In order to protect the integrity of the police investigation, as is appropriate in any case, and to be as fair as possible to those who are subject to it, the Met has asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report to the relevant events. 

METROPOLITAN POLICE SAYS ‘MINIMAL REFERENCE’ WILL BE MADE TO NO 10 EVENTS IN SUE GRAY REPORT

Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, said: ‘My officers will now examine this material in detail to establish whether individuals attending the events in question may have breached the regulations. They will do so without fear or favour following our normal processes.

‘In order to protect the integrity of the police investigation, as is appropriate in any case, and to be as fair as possible to those who are subject to it, the Met has asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report to the relevant events. 

‘This will only be necessary until these matters are concluded, and is to give detectives the most reliable picture of what happened at these events. We intend to complete our investigations promptly, fairly and proportionately.

‘We have not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team.

‘The offences under investigation, where proven, would normally result in the issuing of a fixed penalty notice; accordingly our investigative actions will be proportionate to the nature of these offences.

‘Individuals who are identified as having potentially breached these regulations will normally be contacted in writing, and invited to explain their actions including whether they feel they had a reasonable excuse.

‘Following this process, and where there is sufficient evidence that individuals have breached the regulations without reasonable excuse, officers will decide if enforcement action is appropriate. If the decision is to take enforcement action then a report will be sent to the ACRO Criminal Records Office which will issue the fixed penalty notice. Recipients can pay the fixed penalty and the matter will be considered closed.

‘Should a recipient dispute the fixed penalty notice then the case will be referred back to the Met where officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in a magistrates’ court.

‘As the Commissioner said, we will not be giving a running commentary but we will continue to update when significant progress is made in the investigative process.’

‘This will only be necessary until these matters are concluded, and is to give detectives the most reliable picture of what happened at these events. We intend to complete our investigations promptly, fairly and proportionately.  

‘We have not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team.’  

One source said Met Commissioner Dame Cressida had ‘stuffed it up’ by announcing a criminal inquiry just days before Miss Gray’s report was due to be published.

Whitehall sources warned it could leave the Government – and the country – in limbo, with Boris Johnson unable to draw a line under the affair, ‘reset’ his Government and move on.

Last night, Downing Street was braced to receive a copy of the report – in heavily redacted form – ‘shortly’. While there is no definite timetable, this is likely to mean No 10 getting the dossier this weekend and publishing it early next week.

But after the Met’s intervention yesterday, the report is likely to contain only scant detail of the most controversial events in the Partygate affair.

While this risks the report being branded a ‘whitewash’, there are also concerns that it will paralyse Downing Street, with senior officials facing the uncertainty of potential fines and dismissal for involvement in alleged lockdown-busting parties.

‘Everyone just wants this report out so that we can address what happened and move on,’ one source said. ‘It is very difficult to do that when we have this huge thing hanging over us. It is very frustrating.’ 

Opposition MPs vented fury at the latest move, which will be a massive relief to Boris Johnson as the Yard probe is not likely to be complete for weeks or even months. 

Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, said: ‘This U.K. government farce has gone on long enough. People are understandably concerned that this increasingly looks like a cover-up.’ 

Former police officers and legal figures questioned the timing and whether publishing the report would really prejudice the police investigation.

But Nick Aldworth, a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent and counter-terrorism national co-ordinator, said the report could prejudice the police investigation ‘by disclosing the evidence that they will gather and thereby giving the potential defendants an opportunity to conceal or alter evidence’. 

Loyalist Tories have conceded the situation is a ‘mess’, saying it should have been obvious the report would have to be put on hold during a criminal investigation. 

Conservative MP Christopher Chope accused the force of ‘usurping its position by seeking to interfere in the affairs of state’. And another veteran backbencher, Sir Roger Gale, a long-term critic of the PM, branded the manoeuvring ‘ridiculous’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One programme: ‘This has all the hallmarks of a Whitehall farce written in Scotland Yard. A while back the Met Police were saying they weren’t going to investigate, then they said they would investigate and the sigh of relief from Downing Street could be heard in the Palace of Westminster as the can was kicked down the road.

‘Then they said it would be OK for Sue Gray to publish her report and now this morning they’re saying it’s not OK, or it is OK but she can’t publish anything that anybody is likely to be interested in – which is ridiculous.

‘Unless there is a legal barrier to Sue Gray publishing her report then I believe that it should be published now and in full.’ 

Downing Street insisted there had been no contact with the Met about the its inquiry, and Ms Gray’s team were in charge of the contents of her report.

One police source told MailOnline of the backlash: ‘It’s almost like there are some people unhappy that a criminal inquiry is under way.’ 

Meanwhile, Theresa May has waded into the Partygate row by expressing her anger at the alleged flouting of lockdown and swiping that ‘nobody is above the law’. 

One source said Met Commissioner Dame Cressida (pictured) had 'stuffed it up' by announcing a criminal inquiry just days before Miss Gray's report was due to be published

One source said Met Commissioner Dame Cressida (pictured) had 'stuffed it up' by announcing a criminal inquiry just days before Miss Gray's report was due to be published

One source said Met Commissioner Dame Cressida (pictured) had ‘stuffed it up’ by announcing a criminal inquiry just days before Miss Gray’s report was due to be published

In a letter to constituents seen by her local newspaper the Maidenhead Advertiser, Mrs May wrote: ‘I have said previously that it is vital that those who set the rules, follow the rules. Nobody is above the law.

‘This is important for ensuring the necessary degree of trust between the public and Government.’  

The campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said: ‘Tragically, it seems here that the Metropolitan Police have broken the trust of the public by first refusing to investigate flagrant law breaking, and now demanding any other investigation’s hide the most serious illegalities happening at Downing Street.’    

Facing criticism from all sides, the Met issued a second statement late last night saying it had ‘not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team’. The force also insisted its inquiry would be conducted ‘promptly, fairly and proportionately’.

Tory MP Sir Roger Gale described the police intervention as ‘a farce’, adding: ‘Unless there is a legal barrier to Sue Gray publishing her report, then I believe that it should be published now and in full.’ 

Theresa May wades into Partygate saying ‘nobody is above the law’ 

Theresa May has said she is ‘angry’ at the allegations of parties held in Downing Street during coronavirus restrictions.

The reported comments mark the former prime minister’s first intervention over the partygate scandal.

Mrs May, who has so far not publicly commented on the saga engulfing No 10, told constituents that ‘nobody is above the law’, in a letter seen by her local newspaper.

The Maidenhead Advertiser reported that Mrs May wrote: ‘I have said previously that it is vital that those who set the rules, follow the rules. Nobody is above the law.

‘This is important for ensuring the necessary degree of trust between the public and Government.

‘Like so many, I was angry to hear stories of those in Number 10, who are responsible for setting the coronavirus rules, not properly following the rules.’

The letter – sent before the Metropolitan Police launched an inquiry into the alleged parties – referred to senior official Sue Gray’s investigation, which has now been delayed due to the criminal probe.

Mrs May said that ‘if there is evidence of deliberate or premeditated wrongdoing, I expect full accountability to follow’.

She added: ‘All those working at the heart of Government should conduct themselves with the highest of standards which befits the work they do, and this applies as much to those working in Number 10 as to other parts of Government.’

Mrs May has been a critic of Boris Johnson’s policies in the Commons.

Mr Johnson’s resignation from Mrs May’s Cabinet was seen as one of the blows to her authority that led to her leaving No 10 in 2019.

Senior legal figures also questioned the Met’s suggestion that the release of Miss Gray’s inquiry could ‘prejudice’ the criminal investigation. 

Ken Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions, said the move seemed ‘disproportionate’ in the face of ‘very powerful’ public interest in the report’s swift publication.

Lord Macdonald told the BBC: ‘The risk of the police intervention this morning is that this leaves things hanging in the air for weeks and months, and that seems obviously not to be in the public interest.

‘If we’re talking about fixed penalty notices – like parking tickets, essentially – if we’re talking about that kind of resolution, then to take the rather grave step to delay a report that is going to shed public light on the subject matter of what may be a major public scandal, I think that is undesirable and I think it may be a misjudgment.

‘But only police know what it is that is really at play here.

‘It is really to say that if we are simply talking about lockdown breaches and fixed penalty notices, this move by the police this morning seems to be disproportionate.’

The crossbench peer said that what was not known was whether Ms Gray had uncovered ‘slightly more complex behaviour that the police believes needs more sense of investigation’, offering the example of ‘the co-ordinated deletion of emails or text messages’ that had possibly ‘raised the stakes and brought forward the consideration of more serious offending into play’.  

Nazir Afzal, a former chief Crown prosecutor for the North West, said on Twitter: ‘This is absolute nonsense from the Met Police. A purely factual report by Sue Gray cannot possibly prejudice a police investigation.

‘They just have to follow the evidence, of which the report will be a part.’ 

The Met’s position was further weakened last night after the police acknowledged that the inquiry – forecast to cost as much as £1 million – was looking only at potential Covid breaches dealt with by fixed-penalty notices, typically of £100.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘I’m puzzled why the police at first said they wouldn’t look at this, and then they have now chosen to do so.

‘It’s not a criminal case at all (or) worth all the man hours that it is taking up.’

Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, last night dismissed speculation that detectives were investigating more serious offences than simple breaches of Covid regulations. 

‘The offences under investigation, where proven, would normally result in the issuing of a fixed-penalty notice; accordingly our investigative actions will be proportionate to the nature of these offences,’ she said.

The ‘matter will be considered closed’ if offenders paid their fines, she added, but if they failed to pay, the Met will consider taking them to court.

The publication of Miss Gray’s report had been seen as a possible trigger for mutinous Tory MPs to try to force a leadership challenge. 

Several have said privately that they plan to submit letters of no confidence in Mr Johnson unless he is cleared by the report.

The delay potentially buys more time for the PM and his allies to rebuild support within the parliamentary party. 

But it also scuppers plans for a government ‘reset’ designed to reassure the country that the PM is back on track following a string of revelations that have brought his poll ratings to a record low.

Keir Starmer (pictured) said the Government had been 'paralysed' by the Sue Gray investigation - but stopped short of criticising the Met

Keir Starmer (pictured) said the Government had been 'paralysed' by the Sue Gray investigation - but stopped short of criticising the Met

Keir Starmer (pictured) said the Government had been ‘paralysed’ by the Sue Gray investigation – but stopped short of criticising the Met

Downing Street denied Labour claims that the Government is ‘paralysed’ by the affair.

But ministers say the massive distraction caused by Miss Gray’s inquiry had made it difficult to get decisions out of No 10. Key meetings, including a crunch summit between the PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, have also been delayed.

The Met yesterday moved to clarify its position after the Mail revealed that Whitehall officials blamed the announcement of the police probe for delays to Miss Gray’s report. 

Scotland Yard said: ‘For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report. 

‘The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.’

Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope accused the Met of ‘usurping its position by seeking to interfere in the affairs of state’. 

In the Commons, he said: ‘There is no reason for the Metropolitan Police to be able to require Sue Gray not to issue her report in an unamended way for the benefit of the Prime Minister who ordered that report, and for this House, which is eager to see that report.’ 

He added: ‘There is no reason for the Metropolitan Police to be able to require Sue Gray not to issue her report in an unamended way for the benefit of the Prime Minister who ordered that report, and for this House, which is eager to see that report.

‘It seems that the Metropolitan Police is usurping its position by seeking to interfere in the affairs of state without there being any criminal offences or any grounds for them carrying out such interference.’

Amid the Met Police probe,  senior figures who attended the parties, including Boris Johnson (pictured), and those believed to have organised parties despite knowing they would contravene Covid rules, may well face police interviews

Amid the Met Police probe,  senior figures who attended the parties, including Boris Johnson (pictured), and those believed to have organised parties despite knowing they would contravene Covid rules, may well face police interviews

Amid the Met Police probe,  senior figures who attended the parties, including Boris Johnson (pictured), and those believed to have organised parties despite knowing they would contravene Covid rules, may well face police interviews

Downing Street said it was not the case that No 10 had asked Ms Gray’s team to go back to the Metropolitan Police to ensure her report did not interfere with police investigations.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: ‘No, you’ll be aware that the terms of reference clearly set out that the Cabinet Office would keep in contact with the police and again it’s an independent investigation. we haven’t been privy to the details of that investigation or any of its content.

‘So that would be a matter for the investigations team and the Met.’

Asked if No 10 had any conversations with the Met about the Gray report and what could be published, the spokesman said: ‘Not that I’m aware of, no.’

Pushed to clarify that there had been no No10 involvement in the Met’s position, the spokesman said: ‘I believe that’s correct.’

Keir Starmer said the Government had been ‘paralysed’ by the Sue Gray investigation – but stopped short of criticising the Met.

Lawyers puzzled by Met’s push to water down Sue Gray report 

Lawyers have questioned how publishing the findings of Sue Gray’s inquiry could prejudice the police investigation into allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Scotland Yard has asked for the Whitehall inquiry to only make ‘minimal reference’ to the events it is investigating as it seeks to avoid any prejudice to its probe. But it insisted it has not asked senior civil servant Ms Gray to delay her report or place any further restrictions on other events.

The Metropolitan Police’s statement indicates that Ms Gray will either have to make significant changes to her report before publication or delay it until after the force’s inquiry concludes.

But some legal figures have questioned why publishing the report would prejudice the police investigation.

Nazir Afzal, a former chief Crown prosecutor for the North West, said on Twitter: ‘This is absolute nonsense from the Met Police. A purely factual report by Sue Gray cannot possibly prejudice a police investigation.

‘They just have to follow the evidence, of which the report will be a part.’

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who has spent the pandemic interpreting complex coronavirus laws and explaining them to the public on social media, said on Twitter: ‘I am not a criminal lawyer so perhaps I am missing something. How would a factual civil service report about events the police is investigating ‘prejudice’ their investigation?’

The anonymous lawyer and author known as The Secret Barrister then added: ‘I am a criminal lawyer, and I too must be missing something, because there is no reason I can see as to why an independent police criminal investigation would in any way be influenced by, or would seek to influence, a civil service report.’

But Nick Aldworth, a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent and counter-terrorism national co-ordinator, said the report could prejudice the police investigation ‘by disclosing the evidence that they will gather and thereby giving the potential defendants an opportunity to conceal or alter evidence’.

Publication of official reports and other inquiries can often be delayed until a police investigation and any subsequent court case or inquest is concluded, typically to avoid the risk of prejudicing a jury if a criminal trial was to take place.

But in this instance, if police investigate under the provisions of the coronavirus regulations then there would be little risk of prejudice as the penalty for breaching lockdown rules is a fixed-penalty notice and it is highly unlikely to result in a prosecution.

The Labour leader told broadcasters he wanted to ‘see Sue Gray’s report in full and the investigation finished as quickly as possible, because we’re in this situation where the whole of Government is paralysed because the police are looking at what the Prime Minister was getting up to in Downing Street’.

Sir Keir added: ‘We’ve got a criminal investigation into the behaviour of the Prime Minister and what went on in Downing Street. There are bound to be process issues along the way, but this is caused by one thing, and that’s the behaviour of the Prime Minister.’

Asked whether, with his legal background, he saw any issues of prejudice, Sir Keir said: ‘Any issues of prejudice have got to be worked through but this whole mess, this whole of paralysing of politics, is being caused by the Prime Minister and his wrongdoing.’ 

Dame Cressida said on Tuesday that it would ‘not normally be’ a proportionate use of the force’s resources to investigate historic allegations of Covid breaches. But, in an ominous comment, she said investigations were carried out for ‘the most serious and flagrant type of breach’ where there was evidence of wrongdoing and no ‘reasonable defence’ – and where failure to act would ‘undermine the legitimacy of the law’.  

Despite the Met’s stance, a former chief superintendent Dal Babu said yesterday that there was no reason the report could not be published in full.

He told Sky News: ‘It is not a judge-led inquiry, she doesn’t have any specific powers to call people to give evidence. So her report will be no different to a human resources report.’

Mr Babu pointed out that the sanction for breaching lockdown rules is a fixed-penalty notice – something he described as an ‘entry-level crime’.  

Former chief whip Mark Harper, a vocal critic of the PM, said he had been moved by ‘heartbreaking’ testimonials from members of the public who were unable to see dying loved ones at a time when No10 staff are said to have held parties.

He said: ‘The report must be published in full. Any attempt to conceal or suppress crucial details would be wrong.’

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would ‘pursue every option to make sure that report is out in full’. 

The rule-breakers are likely to face fines of up to £100, as people who flouted Covid restrictions during lockdowns in England were charged £100 for the first offence.

Individuals that police believe they can prove attended the gatherings at Downing Street will be contacted in the near future and issued with fixed penalty notices, according to The Telegraph.  

They will be forced to pay unless they are able to successfully challenge the fine with a reasonable explanation or evidence as to why they should not be charged.

Under lockdown rules and the Health Protection Act, people who broke Covid restrictions could be awarded fines up to £3,200 for repeated offences, though it is unclear whether people who attended multiple gatherings will face higher fines. 

Many of the individuals expected to receive a fixed penalty notice will not be interviewed by police and will not have their names disclosed to the public.

But senior figures who attended the parties, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and those believed to have organised parties despite knowing they would contravene Covid rules, may well face police interviews. 

What details are contained in Sue Gray’s report is for the senior civil servant and the police to ‘work out between them’, a Government minister has said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has demanded the report be published ‘in full and as soon as possible’, adding: ‘After what everybody in the country’s been through in the last year or two with the pandemic, huge sacrifices have been made, the least that they’re entitled to is the truth about what the Prime Minister was up to.’

On a visit to Wales yesterday, Mr Johnson said he was ‘absolutely not’ trying to influence the outcome. ‘I am afraid we have got to let the independent inquiry go on,’ he said, adding that the government was ‘getting on with our work’. 

Downing Street said: ‘We are in no way seeking to block the report nor are we seeking to do as Mark Harper suggests. It remains our intention to publish the report as it is received from the investigation.’ 

Aides have raised concerns that Ms Gray was determined to punish politicians and special advisers, suggesting she is on a ‘power trip’. 

Mr Johnson is bracing to acknowledge ‘serious mistakes’ and voice regret for lax enforcement of lockdown rules in No10 if and when the conclusions finally appear. Senior Conservatives are demanding he stages a major clearout of Downing Street staff as the price of staying in power.  

One ally told the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘He knows he has made serious mistakes, but he believes he is still the right man to lead this country.’             

Now the Met threatens to take No10 staff to court: Police warn they will haul anyone breaking Covid rules at Downing Street before magistrates if they contest fines – as utter farce behind probe is exposed

By Rebecca Camber Crime and Security Editor for the Daily Mail 

Scotland Yard threatened this evening to take anyone breaching Covid rules at Downing Street to court if they contest their fines.

Head of the ‘celebrity squad’, Commander Catherine Roper, announced officers had received the full folder of material gathered during the Cabinet Office probe – and said officers would be writing to those who attended events asking them to explain themselves.

Anyone without a ‘reasonable excuse’ for flouting the rules faces the prospect of ‘enforcement action’, she warned.

Commander Roper said: ‘If the decision is to take enforcement action then a report will be sent to the ACRO Criminal Records Office which will issue the fixed penalty notice.

Scotland Yard threatened this evening to take anyone breaching Covid rules at Downing Street to court if they contest their fines. Pictured: Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick

Scotland Yard threatened this evening to take anyone breaching Covid rules at Downing Street to court if they contest their fines. Pictured: Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick

Scotland Yard threatened this evening to take anyone breaching Covid rules at Downing Street to court if they contest their fines. Pictured: Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick

‘Recipients can pay the fixed penalty and the matter will be considered closed.’

But she added: ‘Should a recipient dispute the fixed penalty notice then the case will be referred back to the Met, where officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in a magistrates’ court.’

The letters to partygoers could save Boris Johnson from the embarrassing prospect of being interviewed under caution. In an extraordinary late statement, the force hit back at criticism over its intervention in the publication of the Sue Gray report.

Earlier, the Met suggested the report be redacted to make ‘minimal reference’ to No10 events to ‘avoid any prejudice to our investigation’. But the reference to ‘prejudice’ – implying it could go before a jury – was scorned by lawyers, and later dropped.

Commander Roper said: ‘We intend to complete our investigations promptly, fairly and proportionately.

‘We have not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team.’

When news first broke that Boris Johnson and his staff apparently held boozy parties at Downing Street while millions endured strict lockdown rules, Scotland Yard quickly dismissed calls to mount an investigation

When news first broke that Boris Johnson and his staff apparently held boozy parties at Downing Street while millions endured strict lockdown rules, Scotland Yard quickly dismissed calls to mount an investigation

When news first broke that Boris Johnson and his staff apparently held boozy parties at Downing Street while millions endured strict lockdown rules, Scotland Yard quickly dismissed calls to mount an investigation

This week was meant to finally draw a line under the scandal that has dogged the PM for months. Here, the Mail exposes the recent shambolic process of the inquiry:

Dame Cressida’s bombshell

Commissioner Cressida Dick announced to stunned London Assembly members on Tuesday that officers were mounting a full-scale criminal inquiry, effectively lobbying a hand grenade into the process. It was a complete reversal of what the Met had said up until then.

When news first broke that Boris Johnson and his staff apparently held boozy parties at Downing Street while millions endured strict lockdown rules, Scotland Yard quickly dismissed calls to mount an investigation.

The force insisted detectives would wait for the conclusion of Miss Gray’s inquiry and only act if there was evidence of criminality.

In an extraordinary late statement, the force hit back at criticism over its intervention in the publication of the Sue Gray (pictured) report

In an extraordinary late statement, the force hit back at criticism over its intervention in the publication of the Sue Gray (pictured) report

In an extraordinary late statement, the force hit back at criticism over its intervention in the publication of the Sue Gray (pictured) report

Her explanation

Justifying the spectacular volte face, Britain’s most senior police officer revealed her officers had already carried out an assessment on a dossier of evidence handed over by Miss Gray on Sunday.

Dame Cressida announced the threshold for a criminal investigation had been met. She said: ‘The guidelines suggested we should potentially investigate further.’

How chaos unfolded

The last-minute intervention by Scotland Yard threw Miss Gray’s inquiry into disarray. It appeared at first that her report would still be published after Scotland Yard briefed on Tuesday that it was not seeking to cover up her findings.

But then yesterday, to widespread scorn, the force announced it had instructed the Cabinet Office team to limit publication of any potentially criminal events and behaviour, casting uncertainty on when the report will surface and how extensive it will be.

Fiasco over ‘prejudice’

Scotland Yard at first argued that redactions – with only ‘minimal reference’ to No10 events – were necessary to ‘avoid any prejudice to our investigation’.

But the reference to ‘prejudice’, implying the matter could go before a jury, astonished lawyers who pointed out this is a non-indictable offence punishable only by a fixed penalty notice.

The Yard later dropped the reference to prejudice, with the aim instead being to avoid forewarning suspects. Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said: ‘This is absolute nonsense from the Met. A purely factual report by Sue Gray cannot possibly prejudice a police investigation.’

The legal quagmire

Any statements provided to the Cabinet Office probe and interviews undertaken of those who attended or organised events cannot be used as definitive proof in a criminal investigation.

Former Met chief superintendent Dal Babu pointed out that the civil inquiry is ‘no different’ to a human resources report and has no legal standing.

Another ex-chief superintendent Dai Davies suggested staff who have been interviewed could retract their testimony.

He added: ‘Now it’s a legal quagmire. Anyone who has spoken to her inquiry could retract their evidence, arguing they did not know it could be used against them in a criminal inquiry.’

Dilemma facing Gray

Sue Gray could publish a watered down version of her inquiry that complies with the Met’s demands, but is shorn of key conclusions promised at the outset.

It could open up the respected civil servant to allegations of participating in a whitewash if she cannot go into all the details that she has unearthed.

Alternatively, the Whitehall inquisitor could hold off on publishing anything until after the Met returns its verdict on the saga.

But this could see the wait turn from days to months – with potentially disastrous consequences for trust in both the Prime Minster and policing.

What happens now?

The seismic Cabinet Office report also has the potential to topple the Prime Minister, with some Tory MPs holding off calling for a vote of no confidence in him until after its release.

The delay risks leaving Boris Johnson’s Government in paralysis for months.

He will be unable to make the changes he wants to his top team, and leaves many people inside the building worrying about the police investigation and their own futures.

The fiasco could not come at a worse time as it threatens to impact more widely on Britain’s international standing, as Russia inches ever closer to invading Ukraine.

May warns: Nobody is above the law 

Theresa May stepped up her campaign against the Prime Minister as she demanded ‘full accountability’ over the Partygate allegations.

Mrs May said she was angry at the revelations and remarked that ‘nobody is above the law’. 

The comments – first reported in the Maidenhead Advertiser, her constituency newspaper – are the former prime minister’s first intervention in the party row – although she has repeatedly taken aim at Boris Johnson since stepping down.

The letter, which was sent before details about Mr Johnson’s birthday party in 2020 were revealed, urged ‘if there is evidence of deliberate or premeditated wrongdoing, I expect full accountability to follow’.

Source: DUK News

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