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Boris Johnson faces police inquiry over lockdown parties

Boris Johnson faces police inquiry over lockdown parties

25.01.2022 From our online archive
Officers investigate a number of events in Downing Street and Whitehall over last two years in relation to potential Covid rule breaches
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Photo credit: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire/dpa

Boris Johnson’s problems escalated dramatically on Tuesday after police said they will formally investigate allegations of pandemic rule-breaking parties in his Downing Street office.

Johnson’s premiership has been engulfed by controversy for weeks over events held in Number 10 at a time when such social gatherings were banned under government restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus. The scandal has left the premier battling for his political survival.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said on Tuesday that her officers are “now investigating a number of events that took place in Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations.” 

“We police without fear or favour,” she said.

The latest development came hours after Johnson’s office confirmed staff had gathered in Downing Street to celebrate his birthday during the first lockdown in 2020. That was the latest in a string of revelations that have been dubbed “partygate” by the British media. 

The allegations are already subject to a government investigation ordered by Johnson. While senior civil servant Sue Gray was expected to report her findings within days, the Cabinet Office said on Tuesday the probe was continuing, without offering a timeframe for publication. 

That report is widely expected to be a seismic moment in British politics, with many members of Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party saying they would wait for it before deciding if they still back the prime minister. The announcement from Dick, who said the police had received information from Gray’s inquiry, has escalated the crisis even further.

Johnson’s office had no immediate comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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