Downing Street party Met Police refers itself to standards watchdog over decision to not investigate
The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the misconduct watchdog over allegations officers failed to step in and shut down ‘lockdown-breaching’ parties in and around Downing Street – and then didn’t investigate them properly later.
Jennifer Helen Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, FSA is a British politician who served as Deputy Mayor of London from 2003 to 2004. A member of the Green Party of England and Wales, she was until September 2019 the sole Green Party member in the House of Lords.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb wrote to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to raise concerns over the reported event on December 18 2020 and the lack of an investigation.
The force has now replied to confirm her complaint has been split into two parts.
Lady Jones had said 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.
Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O’Sullivan, directorate of professional standards, told the Green Party peer in a letter: ‘I have referred your complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct given that you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS police officers.
‘The IOPC will now make a determination as to whether the complaint needs to be investigated and if so, how.’
An IOPC spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that, on Friday, December 17, we received a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service of a complaint about an alleged party at Downing Street in December 2020.
‘We are assessing it to determine what, if any, further action may be required from us.
On the second part, a Met inspector said it relates to Lady Jones’s complaint that Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has ‘refused to investigate allegations of an unlawful gathering on December 18 2020.
‘The Metropolitan Police Service is not the appropriate authority to handle complaints about the commissioner and, as such, this has been referred to MOPAC.’
MOPAC is the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime, which sets the direction and budget for the Met.
It is alleged a Christmas Party in Downing Street on December 18 last year saw officials and advisers make speeches, enjoy a cheese board, drink together and exchange Secret Santa gifts, although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference.
The event is at the heart of an investigation being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray which is examining lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.
The IOPC has been contacted for comment.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime said: ‘A complaint has been received and is under consideration.’
Earlier this month, the Met said it had received “a significant amount of correspondence relating to allegations reported in the media” relating to a party inside Downing Street, and had reviewed video footage surfaced by ITV of the Prime Minister’s then-spokesperson Allegra Stratton appearing to joke about the event.
However, a Met spokesperson said at the time: “The correspondence and footage does not provide evidence of a breach of the Health Protection Regulations, but restates allegations made in the media.
“Based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations, the Met will not commence an investigation at this time.”
The Good Law Project
Last week ‘The Good Law Project’ also wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking it to justify its failure to investigate reports of an unlawful party being held at No 10 Downing Street.
The Metropolitan Police were threatened with legal action for its refusal to investigate the alleged Downing Street Christmas parties.
Earlier Scotland Yard had said it would not probe the gathering in Number 10 in December last year due to a lack of evidence.
The Metropolitan Police has said it does not “routinely investigate retrospective breaches” of Covid laws, after two Labour MPs called for a formal investigation into the party last week.
A spokesperson for the organisation said: “There have been multiple reports from people who say they were in attendance on the night that a party of 40 – 50 people took place in the Prime Minister’s own home.
This would have been a clear breach of the “tier 3” restrictions in place at the time.
“Yet – unbelievably – the Met claims there isn’t enough evidence to open a criminal investigation.
“Apparently this wasn’t even the only unlawful gathering held at Boris Johnson’s home during this period.
“Further reports have now emerged alleging there were gatherings at the Prime Minister’s flat on 13 November 2020, a leaving party at No. 10 held on 27 November 2020 for former aide Cleo Watson, and a party at the Department for Education on 10 December 2020.”
the Good Law Project’s lawyers have sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Met asking it to open an investigation, or to set out the full and detailed reasons behind its refusal to do so.
“If the Met refuses, Good Law Project will consider suing,” the spokesperson added.
Separately, a quarter of a million Brits have demanded that the Met are investigated over their failure to look into the Downing Street party allegations.