The Metropolitan Police investigated the parties inside Downing Street “without fear or favour”, and found simply no evidence that Boris Johnson had violated COVID rules more than once, the force’s interim head of force insisted. Have given.
Stephen House, the acting weather commissioner, also refuted that Johnson or other senior No. 10 workers could have avoided sanction by not filling out a police questionnaire about their activities, saying that doing so was “a need for overwork”. There will be inspiration, no less”.
Giving evidence to the Police and Crime Committee of the London Assembly, the House said there was not enough evidence to serve more than one fixed-penalty notice (FPN) to Johnson, even though he had attended events for which others were fined. was imposed, was questioned by some people. London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was released for political reasons, the House said: “Without commenting on any individual, I do not think there is clear evidence that the Prime Minister had committed a breach. [rules] many times.”
The FPNs were only issued if the police had “evidence that we thought would give us a realistic possibility of a convention in court” if the fines were challenged, House explained.
“I have full confidence in the integrity of the decisions made in this investigation,” he said. “I’m not particularly concerned about what the prime minister thinks. I do my job without fear or favour, as the Met did.”
He said: “We looked at whether there was a prescribed exemption under the rules for the assembly, including whether it was reasonably necessary for business purposes. This is an important point – we decided that some meetings were not work related, and some we decided they were work related.
“We also included the nature of the gathering, the different stages of the meeting, and the amount of time any participant spent there.”
House said he acknowledged some of the number 10 photos “look bad”, but added: “We deal with the law, not what looks bad.” And just because alcohol is there, can I remind people that the rules of covid are about violating the rules of covid, they are not about whether there is alcohol or not. ,
A significant portion of the inquiries were questionnaires sent to potential party attendees, Johnson among them, with the presumption that some senior staffers may not have obtained legal advice to fill them out.
The “huge, vast majority” backed him, the House said. “If someone didn’t return the questionnaire we weren’t easily moved. I’d say it was probably the motivation for more work, not less.”
As House was speaking, the Met issued a reply to Khan, who had written to the force seeking clarification on the same fine to Johnson, defending the investigation in similar terms.
Earlier, Johnson’s official spokesman formally apologized for misleading the media in his repeated denial of any party inside Downing Street during the lockdown, while insisting it was completely unintentional.
The spokesperson also reiterated the number 10’s defense of frequently consumed drinks for employees amid the pandemic, arguing that “the guidelines were silent” on whether such incidents were allowed.
Johnson’s spokesman, a civil servant who was not named when cited by the conference, was one of 10 media employees who dismissed reports that lockdown-violating social events took place in the building.
When asked how the media can trust him now, especially given that the official report of events by senior officer Sue Grey describes a series of social events, many of them around the press office are focused, the spokesperson apologized.
However, he declined to say whether he had attended any of the events set out in Gray’s report or whether he had received a definitive penalty notice.
“The prime minister has said, and I have said on several occasions, that there were failures both in terms of what happened, and how it was handled later,” he said. “The Prime Minister has apologized for this, and I am happy to apologize for that as well.”
When asked about his possible presence at the events, the spokesperson said: “I understand the interest, but I am here to answer questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. I am here to talk about myself as a person.” So I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on it.”