London police investigate Downing Street lockdown parties
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said he welcomed the announcement of a London police investigation into Downing Street parties alleged to have taken place during lockdown in 2020.
The Metropolitan Police Service has launched an inquiry into “a number of events” at Downing Street to determine if U.K. government officials violated coronavirus restrictions.
"I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters," Johnson said.
The events in question met the force’s criteria for investigating the “most serious and flagrant” breaches of COVID-19 rules, Commissioner Cressida Dick told the London Assembly, the capital’s local government council.
Johnson is facing calls to resign amid revelations that he and his staff attended a series of parties during the spring and winter of 2020 when most social gatherings were banned throughout England, forcing average citizens to miss weddings, funerals and birthdays as friends and relatives died alone in hospitals.
The gatherings are already being investigated by a senior civil servant Sue Gray whose report, expected this week, will be crucial in determining whether Johnson can remain in power.
The Cabinet Office said Gray’s investigation would continue. But it wasn’t immediately clear whether Gray would have to delay the announcement of her findings because of the police investigation.
Johnson has apologized for attending a party in the garden of his Downing Street offices in May 2020, but said he had considered it a work gathering that fell within the social distancing rules in place at the time.
In the latest revelation, British broadcaster ITV News reported late Monday that Johnson attended a birthday party in his Downing Street office and later hosted friends at his official residence upstairs in June 2020.
His office denied that the gathering violated lockdown regulations, saying that the prime minister hosted a small number of family members outdoors, which was in line with rules at the time.