LONDON – British police confirmed on Friday that they have asked to withhold key details from the government’s pending investigation into parties at 10 Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown , pass Prime Minister Boris Johnson some political space However, it caused an outcry from critics.
“For the events that the Met is investigating, we have asked for a minimum reference to the Cabinet Office report,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. It added that police had not asked for the publication of the report to be delayed or for it to be reviewed details that were not investigated by the police.
But in practice, this requirement means that the report will almost certainly not contain information about the most egregious allegations of social gatherings violating lockdown restrictions. The flow of reports on illegal gatherings and Mr Johnson’s popular response to them, has been become a big scandalthreatens his hold on power.
Many lawmakers in Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party said they would wait for the internal report – by a high-ranking civil servant, Sue Gray – before deciding whether to send a letter calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson. If the most incriminating details were withheld, it could slow the momentum against him.
Opposition leaders embraced the prospect of a heavily redacted report, arguing that it would lead to a vindication.
“Sue Gray’s report must be fully disclosed, including all photos, text messages and other evidence,” said Alistair Carmichael, a spokesman for the Liberal Democratic Party on family issues. know in a statement. “Any emergence of a grassroots alignment between the Met commissioner and the government is deeply damaging.”
The leader of the Scottish National Party in the British Parliament, Ian Blackford, wrote on Twitter that “people are understandably concerned that this looks more and more like a cover-up.” He also called for the publication of the full report.
The latest announcement places a sharp spotlight on the role of the police. After refusing for weeks to investigate the parties’ reports, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick abruptly announced on Tuesday that the force has decided to open an investigationas well as Miss Gray’s report nearing completion.
That caused days of confusion about the timing and content of the report, Mr. Johnson had previously promised a full publicationas soon as it is sent.
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On Tuesday, Downing Street said that parts of the report that entered areas under investigation by police would be removed, potentially delaying publication. But British media later reported that police did not think the document would affect their work, fueling speculation that it would still be published this week.
If that is true, Scotland Yard looks set to change its mind. On Thursday, Downing Street said that negotiations were underway between Ms Gray’s team and police about what could be included in the document without hindering police questioning, because of waiting times. Publication continues.
Critics have blamed the police for dragging their feet into the investigation. Newspapers covered a series of Downing Street parties, some with music and fun all night long. In one case, a junior employee was dispatched to a store with a suitcase laden with bottles of alcohol. The police officers guarding the complex are in a particularly good place to monitor the arrivals and departures of officers.
“Arguably all of this would have been avoided if the police had done the right thing and started their investigation in December when the allegations surfaced,” wrote. Adam Wagner, a lawyer and expert on coronavirus rules, on Twitter. “We are now in a public accountability limbo and there is a messy move between Gray’s internal report and the police investigation.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/world/europe/boris-johnson-police-parties.html UK police require report on Boris Johnson to withhold details