London police to investigate alleged Downing Street lockdown parties

London police to investigate alleged Downing Street lockdown parties

Britain’s beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing fresh charges in the ongoing “PartyGate” scandal on Tuesday, as details of a 56th birthday cake “party” held for him at the peak of the first COVID lockdown in June 2020 surfaced. Came.

The scandal continues ahead of an Interior Cabinet Office investigation report expected this week, as Scotland Yard has confirmed that the Metropolitan Police will investigate possible lockdown violations related to alleged parties at Boris Johnson’s office-residence at 10 Downing Street, as well as Along with other government offices in London.

“As a result, firstly by information provided by the Cabinet Office investigative team and secondly by the officers’ own assessment, I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of incidents in Downing Street and Whitehall over the past two years. That is, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee at the London Mayor’s Office.

“Let me emphasize that the investigation we are now under does not mean that a fixed penalty notice will be issued in every case and every person involved. We would not comment on our current investigation, but I Can assure you that we will update you on important points.”

Earlier, Downing Street said Johnson, who turned 56 on June 19, 2020, was present at an event “for less than 10 minutes” as his staff “little little” to wish him a happy birthday. for a while” had gathered.

Strict lockdown rules imposed at the time to contain the spread of the coronavirus banned most indoor gatherings involving more than two people. But ITV News reported on Monday night that 30 people attended the event, sang Happy Birthday and cake was served.

The incident reportedly took place in the Cabinet Room in Downing Street just after 2 p.m. local time that day and was arranged as a surprise for Johnson after his then-fiancé and now-wife Carrie Symonds returned from an official visit to school. Went. in Hertfordshire.

A Downing Street No. 10 spokesman said: “That day a group of employees working at No. 10 had gathered in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday. He was there less than 10 minutes later. were for.”

The ITV report also claimed that the same evening, friends of the family were kept upstairs in the prime minister’s official residence in clear violation of the rules.

However, No. 10 denied that claim: “This is completely untrue. In line with the rules of the time, the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.” Several of his ministers spoke out in his defence, even as rebellion among backbench MPs continues.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “It was apparently the prime minister’s birthday, he was given a cake earlier in the day, that’s the picture in the newspapers.”

“And when he came back to the office he was clearly given a cake by the staff. These are the employees he was working with and working with them all day long, and many times in the same room with them as the coronavirus Will be working on her reaction. They come in, give her a cake, I guess I think it lasted 10 minutes and that was it.”

The minister reiterated that it was ultimately up to senior civil servant Sue Grey, who led the Cabinet Office’s inquiry into all partygate allegations within the government, to decide whether it was appropriate.

“I think we can be very clear that the prime minister did not present himself with the cake,” he said.

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said in a tweet: “So, when people in an office buy cake for someone else in the middle of the afternoon they are working in the office and spend 10 minutes singing happy birthday.” and then go back. At his desk, it’s called a party now?” But the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Sir Keir Starmer, reiterated his call for Johnson to resign in the wake of the latest revelations.

“The prime minister is a national distraction and he has to go,” he said.

Johnson meets with his cabinet for a regular weekly meeting on Tuesday amid the growing threat of war with President Putin in Eastern Europe in the backdrop of the Partygate scandal.

Meanwhile, Sue Grey’s much-awaited report is expected by the end of this week and as per the BBC report, she was already aware of the June 19 birthday incident.

A conservative backbench rebellion against Boris Johnson’s leadership is likely to intensify by then. A total of 54 Tory lawmakers must write letters of no confidence in Johnson as a leader to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the party’s powerful backbench 1922 committee, to launch a leadership contest. It is said that most of the people are waiting for the investigation report to make up their mind.

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