Move likely to cause further delay in determining Boris Johnson's future as British Prime Minister.
British police make moves to downplay Downing Street party report after asking for the report to minimize reference to parties. An inquiry into COVID-19 lockdown-breaking gatherings in Downing Street that might determine the future of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be further delayed as a result.
Johnson, facing the gravest threat to his premiership over the alleged lockdown-busting parties at his residence and office at Number 10, has so far weathered growing calls to resign over the events, asking for lawmakers to wait for the report.
The investigation led by senior civil servant Sue Gray is looking into several allegations that staff, and Johnson, attended parties in Downing Street in breach of the rules they had themselves imposed on the population to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It had been expected to be released this week but that time scale was derailed when on Tuesday, London’s Metropolitan Police said they had opened an investigation into some of the events to assess whether criminal offenses had been committed.
The force has itself faced criticism for initially declining to investigate the allegations. Officials are working on ways to publish Gray’s report without compromising the criminal investigation, and some lawmakers fear that it will be watered down. It could, some lawmakers say, also be delayed.
“For the events, the Met is investigating, we asked for a minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report,” the police said in a statement, referring to the department which supports the prime minister and helps implement his policies. “The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation,” it said.
When questioned about the statement, a spokesman for Johnson repeatedly said the investigation’s terms of reference stated that Gray and her team would keep in contact with the police.