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Scotland Yard’s Partygate probe team gets MORE staff after seven weeks (and despite dishing out no fines)
- The Special Enquiry Team has been granted more resources as the probe into Partygate enters its seventh week
- The highly specialised group originally consisted of eight senior officers
- But the squad has taken on more staff who will help investigate 12 gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall that allegedly breached Covid rules
The Scotland Yard squad tasked with investigating Partygate has been expanded, it emerged yesterday.
The elite unit of detectives – known as the Special Enquiry Team – has been granted more resources as the probe enters its seventh week.
The highly specialised group originally consisted of eight senior officers.
But the Mail understands the squad has taken on more staff who will help investigate 12 gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall that allegedly breached Covid rules.
Allies believe PM will now survive even if he is fined by the police over Party-gate, which triggered the collapse in confidence in his leadership. Pictured: Boris Johnson and staff pictured with wine in Downing Street garden in May 2020 when the UK was under Covid restrictions
One member of staff said yesterday the team had ‘now got bigger’. Met Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the squad, has vowed to update the public when ‘significant progress is made in the investigative process’.
But as the probe threatens to drag into a second month, many Tories are growing frustrated with its slow progress, given the implications for the Prime Minister and his team if they are fined.
Officers have yet to hand penalties to anyone and are still in the process of sending out questionnaires to attendees. According to Downing Street, more than 80 questionnaires have been received by aides, officials and politicians demanding a response within seven days.
Boris Johnson – pictured with his aides and bottles of wine during lockdown – has returned his questionnaire.
The Mail understands the squad has taken on more staff who will help investigate 12 gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall that allegedly breached Covid rules. Pictured: Boris Johnson in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday
However, with the focus at the heart of government now on Ukraine, some officials have asked for extra time while they take legal advice. According to sources, the force has now received a large number of responses. But it is taking time for officers to evaluate whether other people need to be contacted to verify claims.
The team are wading through more than 500 documents and cross-referencing accounts with more 300 CCTV images. Officers will consider responses before writing to attendees to warn them that they are being reported to the Criminal Records Office.
Conducted in the utmost secrecy, the team’s progress is being closely monitored by outgoing Commissioner Cressida Dick. Detectives have been told not to speak about the probe, even to colleagues.
Yesterday, a Scotland Yard spokesman acknowledged growing pressure to provide an update and said officers themselves want to let the public know about their progress so far.