The Met Police said it has received more than 300 photos as it continues its investigation into meetings held at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office during the lockdown.
It comes after a partial version of Sue Gray’s account of the events was given to Boris Johnson and made public on Monday afternoon. .
Ms Gray, a civil servant, has been investigating numerous parties in breach of the rules held in Downing Street during the lockdown.
His investigation covers a total of 16 separate meetings on 12 different dates, eight of which are currently being investigated by Met Police.
Read more:Sue Gray’s Full Report: The Published Inquiry into the Downing Street Parties
The report, albeit reduced, found “failures of leadership and judgement” about the parties that “should not have been allowed”.
In a statement, the Met Police revealed that it received more than 300 images and 500 pages of information from the investigation.
It read: “Having received the documentation from the Cabinet Office on Friday 28th January, we are now reviewing it to confirm who will need to be contacted for your account.
“This prioritization will include the review of all Cabinet material, which includes more than 300 images and more than 500 pages of information.”
Initially, the Met Police said it would not generally investigate “infractions reported long after they are said to have taken place”.
But since “significant evidence” has emerged, they are now assessing the breaches, “so we have now acted,” the statement explains.
Meanwhile, Downing Street has said an updated report on Sue Gray will be released following the conclusion of the police investigation.
The move came after Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to guarantee that a fuller version of Ms Gray’s work would see the light of day.
A spokesperson for No 10 said: “As police have said they are investigating a number of events, it would not be appropriate to comment further while the Met investigation is ongoing.
“But, at the end of the process, Sue Gray will be asked by the Prime Minister to update her work in light of what is found. He will post that update.
“However, the prime minister is clear that we should not pass judgment on an ongoing investigation and is now focused on addressing the overall findings.”
Addressing the House of Commons on Monday, the Prime Minister said he expressed his deepest gratitude to Sue Gray and apologized for “the things we just didn’t get right and the way this matter was handled”.
But dozens of MPs, including Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, SNP leader Ian Blackford and Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, kept up calls for Johnson to step down.
The Met Police statement in full
In its entirety, the Met Police statement read:
“Following the publication of Sue Gray’s update, we can now confirm that we will be investigating eight of the 12 dates considered by the Cabinet Office as part of its own investigation into alleged gatherings at government facilities during the Covid restrictions.
“The dates we will be looking at will be:
- May 20, 2020; June 18, 2020;
- June 19, 2020;
- November 13, 2020;
- December 17, 2020;
- December 18, 2020;
- 14 January 2021
- April 16, 2021.
“Our position from the beginning has been that while we do not normally investigate breaches reported long after they are said to have occurred, if meaningful evidence became available we would assess them. That is now the situation and why we have acted.”
“As part of the investigation, it is necessary for us to contact those who attended these events to obtain their account. As a result, the Met has requested that any information identified as part of the Cabinet Office’s investigation into these events not be disclosed.” This request only applies for the duration of our investigation and does not apply to events that we are not investigating.
“The reason this request is necessary is that in any investigation, officers seek independent accounts from each individual, as free from the influence of others’ recollections as possible. Officers would also try to avoid providing details of their investigation. in advance to the people they contact, so that individuals are not tempted to mold their accounts according to what is in the public domain.
“This is a standard approach in all investigations to ensure that the way people participate in our research is non-judgmental, and not judgmental about the people who attended these specific events.
“Having received the Cabinet Office paperwork on Friday 28th January, we are now reviewing it at pace to confirm who will need to be contacted for your account. This prioritization will include review of all Cabinet Office material including more than 300 images and more than 500 pages of information.
“If upon investigation officers believe it is appropriate, because Covid regulations have been breached without reasonable excuse, a fixed fine notice would normally be issued. Once the fine is paid, the matter is considered closed. Alternatively, individuals may decide to dispute the notice. In these circumstances, officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in magistrates’ court.
“We understand that the Met’s action in evaluating and responding to these allegations will divide opinion. However, police officers must, based on the information available, make difficult and carefully considered decisions, even when doing so is contentious.”
“We understand the interest and impact of this case, and we will move the investigation forward at a pace. We are committed to completing our investigations in a proportionate, fair and impartial manner.”