July 1, 2022

London police investigate Downing Street parties during lockdowns

The noose is tightening around Boris Johnson, suspected of having breached the containment measures taken to fight the Covid epidemic in the United Kingdom. London police announced on Tuesday January 25 that they were investigating several parties organized in Downing Street and within the senior administration during the confinements, at the origin of a serious crisis threatening the Prime Minister.

“I can confirm that the MET [police de Londres] is currently investigating a number of events that took place in Downing Street and Whitehall [la rue qui accueille la haute administration] over the past two years, in relation to potential breaches of rules related to Covid-19”, said the chief of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, during a hearing in front of the elected officials of the capital.

She said that several other “events” had been examined, but are considered not to be part of a criminal investigation. “The fact that we are now investigating does not, of course, mean that fines will necessarily be issued in every case and for every person involved”, recalled M.me Dick.

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Birthday party in June 2020

For several weeks, press articles detailing the many breaches of containment in Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 have weighed on the popularity rating of the head of government. Boris Johnson has publicly defended himself on several occasions saying he did not break any rules while apologizing to the British people.

Latest revelation to date: the ITV television channel detailed on Monday the organization of a birthday party in honor of Boris Johnson in June 2020, when gatherings were strictly prohibited. According to the ITV television channel, the event brought together up to thirty people in the council chamber at 10 Downing Street, the office and official residence of the head of government in London. “A group of staff working that day at the nThe 10 [Downing Street] briefly gathered in the council chamber after a meeting to wish the prime minister a happy birthday. He was present for less than ten minutes., the Prime Minister’s Office said in response to ITV.

Attendees offered a birthday cake to Boris Johnson in the presence of his future wife, Carrie, but it was a surprise and nothing had been prepared in advance by the prime minister, the transport minister said , Grant Shapps, Tuesday on Sky News. “I understand the feeling of concern about this information that we see on the front page of the newspapers”, he acknowledged, adding that “Mistakes have been made”.

The chain also understood that relatives of the family had been received in the Prime Minister’s residence the evening before, which Downing Street denied. “It is totally false. In accordance with the rules then in force, the Prime Minister received a small number of his family members outside that evening., a spokesperson told ITV.

Calls for resignation

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer has again called for the prime minister to resign “who thinks that the rules he has set do not apply to himself”.

Read also Boris Johnson participated in a party for his birthday in full confinement

The head of government has so far escaped a vote of no confidence from his conservative camp and refers to the conclusions of the internal investigation carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray, which should be published soon.

Boris Johnson would be threatened with having to resign if 54 of the 360 ​​Conservatives who sit in the House of Commons took the initiative to each write a letter of defiance. This threshold has not yet been crossed, several elected Conservatives saying they want to wait for the results of the internal investigation.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters