Police face questions over Boris Johnson’s handling of Partygate

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Police face questions over Boris Johnson’s handling of Partygate

The photos from the Partygate saga have left police facing questions about the credibility of their investigation and a former police chief demanding that they explain themselves urgently.

The Metropolitan police ended its investigation into a string of Downing Street and Whitehall parties last week, which Boris Johnson received just one fine. Westminster insiders said the prime minister had been a willing participant at several social gatherings that breached the lockdown rules, but the police decision appeared to suggest he had broken no rules.

The Met's deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick said that public confidence in the Met was further damaged by the revelations.

Lord Paddick, now a Liberal Democrat peer, said it should have been obvious to the Met that photos would become public and undermine the credibility of their decision-making, which was already hugely debated.

Paddick said that if the police decided not to take action against him over other events, he would be in trouble.

The public will want to know what more evidence the police need to give the prime minister a fixed penalty notice, when the photos appear to show beyond reasonable doubt that he should have been issued with one. The Met did not answer any further questions after the photos showed Johnson at an event that he was not fined for. The PM has a glass in his hand and is surrounded by others clutching glasses. Copious bottles of wine and other drinks can be seen. We are not adding to our last statement, according to the Met. The Independent Office for Police Conduct IOPC has been urged to investigate why Johnson was not fined for the event. The Lib Dems deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, wrote to the police watchdog's director general, Michael Lockwood, asking them to require the Met to clarify its decision-making process.

Cooper said that the Metropolitan police has so far failed to make a statement of clarification regarding their decision-making process. They have not set out the evidential thresholds that they used to determine whether FPNs should be issued.

The release of pictures, such as that of the prime minister drinking in Downing Street, on an occasion for which he was not fined, will cause a lot of public confusion.

It is hard to understand why some individuals, particularly more junior members of staff, who attended the same gatherings as the prime minister received questionnaires and FPNs, while the prime minister did not. The Met is already expected to face questions before the London Assembly, which has a role in holding Britain's largest force to account.

Paddick said the Met s silence had to end now, because clear-cut evidence was emerging: The police need to explain why when they did not issue the PM with another fixed penalty notice. Johnson was issued a fine for an event in the cabinet room at No 10 on his birthday, which was said to be a surprise.

A team of 12 officers looked at 510 photographs and CCTV images as part of the evidence-gathering process for the Met investigation.

The Met initially declined to investigate, but then reversed its decision in January after Sue Gray s inquiry for the Cabinet Office unearthed material of concern.

Helen Ball, acting deputy commissioner, said the 126 fines issued by the police were issued after clear-cut evidence of breaches.