Ex-attorney general slams Met Police over Sue Gray partygate ‘vacillation’

Sue Gray is expected to deliver her partygate report soon but the Met Police has asked she leaves out details of the incidents they are investigating, Shehab Khan reports

The Metropolitan Police have been “vacillating” about alleged Downing Street lockdown parties in the face of major public concern, a former attorney general has said.

ITV News understands the prime minister will receive a copy of Sue Gray's report into alleged Covid-19 lockdown breaking parties "shortly" and will not wait for the police inquiry to conclude. It is expected Boris Johnson will be handed the report in the near future, it will then be redacted in line with the police request and will then likely be published next week.

Lord Morris of Aberavon was speaking after Scotland Yard constrained the inquiry report into “partygate” over concerns its contents may impact the police investigation into possible lockdown breaches.

Boris Johnson is under heavy pressure. Credit: PA

He said: “I am dismayed with the vacillation of the Metropolitan Police.

“Surely it is in the public interest that major concerns over events in Downing Street be investigated and reported on. Any prejudice that might result in fines would be a disproportionate concern.”

The Metropolitan Police have asked Ms Gray, a senior civil servant, to make only “minimal reference” to No 10 events which are subject to a criminal investigation, buying more time for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he faces a threat to his leadership.

One of the things that could save Boris Johnson is that there isn't a ready made alternative, ITV News Political Reporter Shehab Khan explains

Earlier this week Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick confirmed that officers were investigating “potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations” at events held at Downing Street and in Whitehall in 2020.

Lord Morris added: “Could I ask whether the commissioner consulted with the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), who in turn – as it did in my day – at least keep the AG (attorney general) informed in any such event involving public figures?

“The AG supervises the CPS. Did she have a role in this?”

In a statement on Friday, Scotland Yard said: “For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report.

“The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.”

Rather than the statement indicating an escalation of the investigation, it is believed that officers were only looking into possible breaches of Covid rules that may warrant fixed penalty notices, with the Met’s concerns focusing on the ability of officers to effectively investigate.