Partygate: ‘stunned’ ex-senior Met Police officer PM not fined for lockdown drinks | Political news

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Scotland Yard was ‘kicked and screamed’ to launch its investigation into the party so it was flawed from the start, a former senior Met officer has told Sky News.

Retired Chief Superintendent Dal Babu has said the decision to impose just one fine on Boris Johnson for breaking COVID laws means the whole operation will be in question.

He said a new photo of Boris Johnson drinking with colleagues at a Number 10 rally, standing next to a table with bottles of wine, there is clear evidence the Prime Minister committed a second offence.

He said he was “flabbergasted” that the Prime Minister had not been fined for the event.

Police decided not to fine Mr Johnson after questioning him about the gathering on November 13, 2020, when the latest COVID regulations banned social gatherings of more than two people.

He had previously been fined £50 for attending a birthday party thrown for him by colleagues in Downing Street five months earlier.

Mr Babu said: ‘What people are going to wonder is, if there is really clear evidence of a breach, what else have Met investigators missed?

Find out more about Downing Street parties

The former officer and I sat studying the photo as controversy raged over the Met’s decision to fine at least one other person at the rally, but not Mr Johnson.

Mr Babu added: “Look at the photo, you have the Prime Minister standing with a glass of wine, empty wine bottles, so the drinking has been going on for a while, there are nibbles on the table.

“He said there were no parties, but it’s clearly a party, which was illegal at the time.”

ITV handout photo dated 13/11/20 of a photograph obtained by ITV News of the Prime Minister raising a glass at a going away party on November 13, 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him.  Date of issue: Monday, May 23, 2022.
Picture:
Photo: ITV
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I pointed to the official red box next to the PM, evidence that he may have been at work as he claimed and briefly entered the room to say goodbye to a departing colleague.

“It doesn’t look like work,” Mr. Babu replied.

“I don’t see how it wasn’t a rule breaker at the time. I’m just flabbergasted he wasn’t fined.

“At least one other person present was fined, so why not the prime minister?

The Met has faced harsh criticism after concluding its nearly four-month investigation into the partygate allegations.

Scotland Yard said last year it would not investigate alleged breaches of COVID law in Downing Street and Whitehall, due to its policy of not routinely investigating historic breaches.

But in January Commissioner Cressida Dick suddenly announced that there would be an inquiry after all, after new evidence was passed on by the Cabinet Office and uncovered by her own detectives.

ITV handout photo dated 13/11/20 of a photograph obtained by ITV News of the Prime Minister raising a glass at a going away party on November 13, 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him.  Date of issue: Monday, May 23, 2022.
Picture:
Photo: ITV

“They were reluctant to do so and having decided to investigate, there was no transparency or openness,” Mr Babu said.

“There is a lack of trust in the whole operation and the police regulator, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, should launch its own investigation into how the Met handled it.”

The police watchdog confirmed on Tuesday that it has received a complaint from the Lib Dems about the Met’s investigation and is handing it over to the Met, as required by law, which will determine whether a dismissal is necessary.

In the complaint, the Lib Dems urged them to establish how Met detectives came to the conclusion not to fine the Prime Minister for the events of November 13, 2020 after the picture showed him there.

The government is set to come under closer scrutiny this week as a report led by senior civil servant Sue Gray is expected to be released which looked at more parties than the Met.

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