News

Police watchdog refuses to investigate Met over No.10 party complaint


Police were accused of being ‘highly likely to have played an active part in organising or facilitating the illegal gathering’ (Picture: Getty Images)

The police watchdog will not investigate a complaint over the Metropolitan Police’s handling of an alleged Downing Street party, it has been announced.

The force referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after concerns were raised over its refusal to probe an alleged event on December 18, 2020.

Around ’40 or 50′ people were said to be crammed ‘cheek by jowl’ in a room in Number 10.

Boris Johnson denied a party happened, but further questions were raised when a leaked video showed his then-press secretary Allegra Stratton joking about a ‘fictional bash’ at a mock press conference.

After ‘having fully assessed the referral’, the IOPC ‘decided it is invalid’ and returned it to the Met to handle as the complainant was ‘not adversely affected’ by the alleged party.

Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb initially wrote to the watchdog to put in a complaint, which was split into two parts.

She claimed there is a ‘case to answer’ for the Met ‘aiding and abetting a criminal offence, or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of Government politicians and their staff’ due to the ‘extensive’ police presence in Downing Street.

In her letter, she added: ‘If there was an unlawful gathering taking place at Number 10 Downing Street then the police must have known, and were highly likely to have played an active part in organising or facilitating the illegal gathering.’

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5
video

An IOPC spokesperson said this evening: ‘We can confirm that on December 17 we received a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of a complaint about an alleged party at Downing Street in December 2020.

‘Having fully assessed the referral we have decided it is invalid and we have returned it to the MPS to handle as it determines would be appropriate.

‘Under the relevant legislation, a valid complaint can only be made where an individual, or someone acting on their behalf, has been adversely affected by the alleged conduct or its effects.

‘There was nothing within the referral to indicate the complainant was physically present or nearby when officers stationed at Downing Street allegedly failed to enforce Covid rules. Nor is there a suggestion that they were physically present or sufficiently nearby when the effects of the officers’ alleged actions occurred.

‘If evidence were to come to light that anyone serving with the police may have breached standards of professional behaviour or committed a criminal offence, linked to the alleged party, we have reminded the Metropolitan Police of its obligations to refer relevant matters to us, irrespective of whether or not a valid complaint has been made.’

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O’Sullivan, directorate of professional standards, told Lady Jones on Tuesday her complaint had been referred to the IOPC given ‘you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS police officers’.

On the second part, a Met inspector said it related to Lady Jones’s complaint that Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick ‘refused to investigate allegations of an unlawful gathering on December 18 2020’.

This was referred to the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (Mopac), which sets the direction and budget for the Met.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5
video

Mopac confirmed it is assessing the complaints to decide if further action is required.

The event is at the heart of an investigation being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, which is examining rumoured lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.

The Government is accused of hosting up to eight social gatherings as millions followed rules.

Westminster was sent into a frenzy after a photo emerged this week of Boris Johnson with cheese and wine alongside civil servants and his wife during the first lockdown.

But a No.10 spokesperson has insisted it simply shows a ‘work meeting’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.