Boris Johnson: London's Metropolitan Police deny delaying Sue Gray's 'partygate' report

Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street on Wednesday to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session.
Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street on Wednesday to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session. Copyright AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Copyright AP Photo/Matt Dunham
By Euronews with AP
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Police have asked for Sue Gray's report to include "minimal reference" to alleged Downing Street lockdown parties to avoid prejudicing their own investigation.


Doubts over a key report into lockdown-breaching parties within the British government deepened on Friday, when police said they wanted parts of it to remain unpublished until they finish a criminal investigation.

London's Metropolitan Police have urged senior civil servant Sue Gray to make only “minimal reference” to gatherings at 10 Downing Street that are currently being investigated.

The Metropolitan Police force made the request on Friday to avoid "any prejudice to our investigation", and have denied that they acted to delay the report. Earlier this week they announced they would conduct their own inquiry.

But the consequences of the request are that the publication of Gray's report could be further delayed, as well as casting doubts on its content.

Sue Gray is probing allegations that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his staff flouted their own COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

Multiple allegations of “bring your own booze” office parties, birthday celebrations and “wine time Fridays" have circulated in recent weeks.

The report -- which is examining over a dozen separate incidents -- could deliver a final blow to Boris Johnson's fragile leadership.

The "partygate" claims have caused public anger, led some Conservative lawmakers to call for Johnson’s resignation and triggered intense infighting inside the ruling party.

This week, UK police opened an inquiry into a number of allegations concerning the “most serious and flagrant” breaches of coronavirus rules.

But the Metropolitan Police have now asked for parts of Sue Gray's report to remain unpublished until they finish their criminal investigation.

Later on Friday they said they made the request after receiving information from the Cabinet Office, where Sue Gray is based.

“We have not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team," said Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command.

 Johnson had promised to publish Gray’s report in full and to address parliament about its findings. He has denied personal wrongdoing and said he has “absolutely no intention” of resigning.

The UK government has also denied interfering with Gray’s inquiry, maintaining that the investigation will be independent.

The Metropolitan Police has also faced criticism itself for initially declining to investigate the allegations of parties at Downing Street.

Fran Hall, a spokesperson for the group COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said police “have let families like mine down.”

“As we predicted, the Sue Gray investigation has turned into a circus,” said Hall, whose husband died of COVID-19 in 2020. “The reality is that it’s clear that the prime minister broke his own laws blatantly and regularly, whilst families across the country stuck with them and suffered greatly for doing so.

"If he had any decency he would do the right thing and resign, but that quite clearly isn’t going to happen.”

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