Police include Boris Johnson among fifty people to be questioned over Downing Street parties | International

Scotland Yard already has the list of people involved in the Downing Street parties whom it wishes to question. And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who reportedly attended six of the 12 events investigated, is among them. The Metropolitan Police announced late on Wednesday its intention to send written questionnaires to all those involved. They will have the legal category of a formal interrogation and the recipients will be obliged to tell the truth. They will have seven days to return the completed document. In the event that their answers do not convince the agents, or that they are unable to justify their presence at these meetings, they face a fine of 200 pounds (about 237 euros, at current exchange rates). The fine is a minor infraction and is not included in the criminal record of the sanctioned person. But it is recorded in the personal history of the National Police Archive.

Johnson has never wanted to give a direct answer to the question, but through anonymous allies he has made it clear in various media that he has no intention of resigning if Scotland Yard finally imposes one or more fines on him. At the same time, however, the Prime Minister has made a public commitment to make known to the public both the final result of the party report prepared by the official Sue Gray (known only in a small part, due to the obligation not to interfere with the police investigation) as well as any sanction you receive.

It will be difficult, when the time comes, to defend a clean slate in Parliament. Especially since, despite Johnson’s attempts to turn the page on this whole scandal, a new photo or some compromising data emerges every day. This Wednesday, the tabloid DailyMirror posted an image of Johnson from Dec. 15, 2020. An employee is sitting at his work desk, which has a speakerphone on it that allows conference calls. There is also a bottle of prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) open. And a bag of chips. The clerk is Stuart Glassborow, Johnson’s deputy private secretary, and he wears a tinsel necklace. Behind him, Johnson himself appears to be placing something on the lapel of his jacket. And a little further back, he sees another person wearing a Santa hat.

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Scotland Yard had initially ruled out including that event, a kind of virtual question-and-answer contest for staff working in Downing Street, in its investigation, for not detecting criminal relevance in it. But he announced late on Wednesday that he was going to take another look at the photo and review his decision.

The decoration of the apartment

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The intervention of the police in the matter of the parties during the confinement marked a considerable jump in the gravity of the political scandal and put Johnson on the ropes. The same may now happen with another issue that has dogged the Conservative prime minister for months: the costly redecoration of the private apartment he and his wife, Carrie Symonds, enjoy in the Downing Street building. The legal team of the Labor Party has already sent a letter to Scotland Yard in which it indicates that there are “reasonable suspicions” that the prime minister broke the laws against corruption when seeking the money for this facelift of the official residence and that the authorities “are obliged to act ex officio.” The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that they have already received the letter and have submitted it for consideration.

The Electoral Commission revealed in its day an exchange of WhatsApp between Johnson and David Brownlow, the multimillionaire Conservative Party donor who put up a large part of the almost 150,000 euros that the Johnson couple spent on redesigning their home. The prime minister asked in his messages to Brownlow for more money to complete the works. They hired celebrity fashion designer Lulu Lytle, who went as far as to order wallpaper for almost 1,000 euros a roll. Lytle was one of 30 people who attended Johnson’s surprise birthday party on June 19, 2020. Opposition Labor lawyers link Brownlow’s favors and their meeting two months later with Culture Minister Oliver Dowden, so that the Government would contribute to an exhibition that the businessman was preparing at the Royal Albert Hall. The Downing Street communication team has already officially denied any relationship between the messages and the subsequent meeting.

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Major charge against Johnson

He has already become an old rival of Johnson, who does not hide his contempt for the political ways of the current Downing Street tenant. But former Conservative Prime Minister John Major retains a prestige that lends significant weight to criticism of him. “Deliberately lying to Parliament has always been lethal for any political career and should always be so,” Major said in a speech at the Institute for Government think tank. The political veteran has not put hot cloths to the public accusation of him: “In Downing Street, the prime minister and his team broke the laws. Shameless excuses were invented and, day after day, the citizenry was asked to believe the unbelievable. Ministers were sent to the media to defend the indefensible and come across as naive or guilty,” said Major.

It is not the first time that the former prime minister has expressed his distaste for Johnson. He has been a harsh critic of Brexit and the way it was managed, and jumped into the public debate to warn of the seriousness of the decision adopted by his rival by unilaterally closing Parliament’s activity to put an end to the endless debate on leaving the EU. The Supreme Court ended up reversing that decision, in a harsh sentence against Johnson.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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