Sadiq Khan says Met police should explain partygate conclusions
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The London Mayor, who oversees policing in the capital, called for “urgent clarity” from the Met over what steps have been taken in relation to the newly-released photographs of the Prime Minister at a gathering to mark the departure of his then communications chief Lee Cain. Mr Khan’s remarks prompted a furious reaction from a Conservative peer who argued the Mayor should not get involved in legal affairs.
Police are understood to have issued fines over the event, which took place on November 13, 2020, as a result of their investigation into lockdown-breaking in Downing Street and Whitehall – but not to Mr Johnson despite, in Mr Kahn’s words, “smoking gun” evidence a party had taken place.
This was a separate gathering from that on the Prime Minister’s birthday in June 2020, for which he received a fixed penalty notice (FPN).
At the conclusion of the closely-watched Met Police probe last week, it was disclosed Mr Johnoson had not been fined for any other events.
Mr Khan called into question their investigation, which finalised with 126 fines for 83 people, including Mr Johnson’s FPN.
He said: “There clearly was a party – he was raising his glass, there were empty wine bottles there…
“I think the police should be explaining how they reached their conclusions, that’s the right thing for them to do.”
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Speaking on Sky News, he added: “People across the country will be saying, not unreasonably, ‘hold on a second, I followed all the rules, I was meticulous in relation to following the rules’.
“Those that broke the rules were fined and here we have a photograph which looks like the Prime Minister caught red-handed breaking the rules – some would call it a smoking gun.
“So the police should explain how it is more fines weren’t issued.”
Tory Peer Lord Moylan criticised the Mayor’s comments, saying he was “clearly intervening now in police operational matters for political reasons”.
He dubbed his intervention “wholly impermissible and unconstitutional”.
The photos in question, obtained by ITV News, show the Prime Minister with a glass in his hand and multiple bottles of wine on a table with several other people as they seem to be toasting a colleague.
They were taken at a time when people were not allowed to mix with other households inside.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News Mr Johnson was “not partying” in the photograph.
He said: “The question is, was he down there partying? No, clearly not – he’d gone by to say thanks and raise a glass to a colleague who was leaving.
“The police have spent a lot of time with a lot of people and a lot of resources crawling over it and they’ve come to their conclusion – as we know he wasn’t fined for that event.”
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Other Conservatives, however, have publicly raised concerns over the “seriousness” of Mr Johnon’s premiership.
MP Tom Tugendhat said: “It’s very difficult to look at those photographs because they don’t give the impression of seriousness that I think we really need in our country.
“We know that Number10 was working hard. Of course, they were and they were doing all they could.
“But we also know that people were working incredibly hard in hospitals and care homes and across our country.”
He added: “We know that teachers were turning up to work and making sure that people could get kids education when they were essential workers.
“We know that many people were turning up at times when they were extremely worried.
“And I’m afraid this doesn’t show the level of seriousness that we really need in government.”
Veteran MP Sir Roger Gale, meanwhile, accused Mr Johnson of misleading Parliament by denying a party had taken place as it is “absolutely clear that there was a party” and that the Prime Minister was there.
A report into more events by top civil servant Sue Gray is set to be published this week.
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