Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received the Met Police's questionnaire over allegations of lockdown-breaching parties, Downing Street confirmed.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “We can confirm the Prime Minister has received a questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police. He will respond as required.”
The Met Police announced on Wednesday it is sending out formal legal questionnaires to more than 50 people believed to have taken part in the gatherings at Downing Street.
What does receiving a police questionnaire mean? Will the prime minister be fined?
It means Mr Johnson will have to provide a credible reason as to why he was at events held when Covid-19 restrictions were in place or face a fine.
The force said the questionnaire would ask for “an account and explanation of the recipient’s participation” in an event.
The Met Police said: “If following an investigation, officers believe it is appropriate because the Covid regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice will normally be issued.
“We understand the interest in and impact of this case, and are progressing the investigation at pace.
“We are committed to completing our investigations proportionately, fairly and impartially.”
How serious is the questionnaire for the PM? Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen explains
It also said: "It should be noted that being contacted does not mean a fixed penalty notice will necessarily be issued to that person.
"Nevertheless if following an investigation, officers believe it is appropriate because the Covid regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice will normally be issued."
The emphasis on the word "necessarily" by the Met implies that those sent the police questionnaire are very likely to be fined as the police believe the recipients, which include the prime minister, look as though they broke the law, ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston explained.
How long does the prime minister have to respond?
Recipients of the questionnaire are required to respond “truthfully” within seven days.
What is the Met Police investigating?
The police force is investigating 12 different events in No 10 and Whitehall over the course of 2020 and 2021 for possible breaches of Covid rules.
The prime minister is alleged to have been at up to six of them.
They include the “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 attended by Mr Johnson and an alleged birthday party held for the prime minister a month later, both revealed by ITV News.
The Operation Hillman team is examining more than 500 documents and 300 images provided to them by the Cabinet Office.
Lord Blair, a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said on Saturday that the PM should recuse himself from involvement in picking the next Met chief while under investigation for possible Covid-19 rule breaches.