For the law to have any meaning, it must apply equally to us all. The Metropolitan Police must explain their failure to provide any explanation of how they cleared the Prime Minister over the Partygate investigation.
First published: July 2022.
The Met Police have, at last, admitted they did not send questionnaires to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, before deciding not to fine him for attending a gathering in No.10 on 13 November 2020 or a gathering in the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2020.
According to Sue Gray, at the November gathering, the Prime Minister gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his Director of Communications. Wine was provided and those attending, including the Prime Minister, drank alcohol. There are a number of photographs of the event. The Prime Minister also attended the December 2020 gathering, where wine was also provided, and made a speech. The Met have issued other attendees at both events with fines.
In their formal pleaded reply to our legal challenge, the Met admit they did not send the PM questionnaires, but continue to fail to provide any explanation of how they cleared the Prime Minister.
Rishi Sunak’s Partygate fine suggests that passing through a gathering en route to a meeting doesn’t prevent you from being fined, so it’s far from clear how turning up to a gathering deliberately, raising a toast and encouraging the revels to continue can be compliant with the law.
We don’t think the Met’s response is consistent with their legal duty of candour. And we certainly don’t think it’s consistent with what the Met has elsewhere conceded is their public duty to maintain public confidence in policing.
In the circumstances, Good Law Project and Lord Paddick will continue with the judicial review.
PM Boris Johnson drinking in Number 10 during the lockdown. | Cabinet Office -- Sue Gray report.
The public has a right to know what really went on inside the Partygate investigation. The Met’s actions have raised grave concerns about the deferential way in which they are policing those in power.
It was only after we threatened to sue the Met in January 2022 that they agreed to investigate at all and the Prime Minister was eventually fined for attending a lockdown gathering in June 2020.
Our challenge is grounded in a single, simple idea: for the law to have any meaning, it must apply equally to us all. The Met must explain their seeming lack of action in this matter.
We won’t stop until the full story is uncovered.
— AUTHORS —
▫ Good Law Project, a not-for-profit campaign organisation that uses the law to protect the interests of the public.
GoodLawProjectonlyexists thanks to donations from people across the UK. If you’re ina position to support their work, you can do so here.
- Text: This piece was originally published in Good Law Project and re-published in PMP Magazine on 28 July 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/Number 10. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)