Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was accused on Friday of presiding over a ‘settlement deal’ as London forces maintained their refusal to investigate Downing Street over the lockdown parties.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey urged Dick not to let British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “off the hook” as Number 10 was forced to. to apologise to Queen Elizabeth for two staff parties in April last year which took place the day before her husband Prince Philip’s funeral. The monarch sat alone during the service in accordance with Covid-19 regulations at the time.
Davey said it was ‘clear to everyone’ that Johnson broke the law on lockdown rules: Earlier this week the Prime Minister Free a partial apology in parliament after he admitted attending a ‘bring your own booze’ party at Number 10 during lockdown in May 2020.
“Cressida Dick must not let him slip through a questionable seam of the establishment,” he said. “The Met Commissioner might think it’s one rule for Boris Johnson and another rule for everyone else, but that doesn’t make it right.”
The Met responded to questions by reiterating its previous position that it was in contact with the Cabinet Office, which is investigate in parties led by senior civil servant Sue Gray. The force said that if this probe yields further evidence, it will would examine it.
Asked about reports that staff brought a suitcase full of wine to Downing Street for one of the parties last April and whether officers knew about it, the force said they had not discussed arrangements for protective security in government buildings.
Dal Babu, a former senior Met officer who served in Downing Street security earlier in his career, said the force got into a “real mess” over the apparent breaches.
“I think the police made the decision not to investigate early on,” Babu said, referring to when the first reports of Downing Street parties breaking lockdown rules emerged in November. “I imagine they would have consulted high-level politicians on this, and I think that was a mistake because it has now become history.”
The position angered Jamie Klingler, organizer of a Reclaim these streets vigil last year on London’s Clapham Common. The event was halted by the Met, which made four arrests as the force said it breached coronavirus restrictions.
The vigil took place on March 13 last year, a month before the April 16 parties in Downing Street, and was held to commemorate Sarah Everard, who was abducted, raped, and murdered by Wayne Couzens, a serving Met officer at the time.
“The fury and rage does not begin to convey my feelings about the hypocrisy of the Met, which does not serve the women of London,” Klingler said.
The Met declined to investigate reports from at least six separate Downing Street parties – one in May 2020, two in November 2020, one in December 2020 and both last April – on the grounds that it would not investigate normally not on coronavirus rule violations in retrospect.
The strength is already under close surveillance about its culture and attitudes after the Everard murder and a series of botched investigations.
Kieron McArdle, who was fined in March last year after two friends caught him on his birthday drinking with them in his garden, said he too was “angry and frustrated” with the Met’s stance.
McArdle and his friends each faced a £200 fine, reduced to £100 each for prompt payment, following the incident, in Coleshill, Warwickshire.
McArdle said he and his friends accepted what they had done wrong, paid the fines and thought no more of the matter until revelations about the Downing Street parties began to emerge.
“The Met Police are basically holding the doors open for them and carrying trays of drinks for them,” McArdle said. “They’re as completely into it as the politicians.”