Met Police denies delaying publication of Sue Gray’s partygate report

Scotland Yard officers are now examining the evidence provided by the Cabinet Office, the force said.

Met Police denies delaying publication of Sue Gray’s partygate report No10 Downing St
Fixed penalty notices are the normal result for the sort of offences being investigated being found proven, the Met said.

The Metropolitan Police said it had not delayed the publication of the Sue Gray inquiry into possible lock-down breaking gatherings in Downing Street.

The force stressed the timing of its release was a matter for the Cabinet Office after Scotland Yard asked for the Whitehall report to make only “minimal reference” to the events being investigated by police.

On Friday evening, reports said it is understood the Prime Minister would receive Sue Gray’s report “soon” – but it remains unclear when this may be.

STV News understands it is unlikely Boris Johnson will be presented with a copy on Friday night. It is expected to be sent to Downing Street shortly, either over the weekend or in the coming week.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “No-one will accept a Westminster cover-up.

“If the UK Government refuses to publish the full unredacted report it will prove, yet again, that Westminster is utterly corrupt and broken beyond repair.

“It won’t save Boris Johnson’s skin. It will only add to the calls for him to go.”

Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, said her officers would examine material provided to them by the Cabinet Office to determine if individuals broke Covid-19 regulations.

She said her detectives would do so “without fear or favour” following “normal processes”.

Scotland Yard, home of the Met Police.iStock
Scotland Yard, home of the Met Police.

Commander Roper said the Met intends to complete its investigations “promptly, fairly and proportionately”.

She referenced fixed penalty notices as the normal result for the sort of offences being investigated being found proven, saying the police investigation would be “proportionate to the nature of these offences”.

The Met’s statement in full read: “The Cabinet Office has been conducting an inquiry into allegations of breaches of Covid regulations and guidance in Downing Street and Whitehall. As a result of the information provided by the Cabinet Office team, and assessments by Met officers, the Commissioner announced an investigation on Tuesday January 25.

“The MPS has today, Friday, January 28, received the material it requested from the Cabinet Office to support its investigation into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations at a number of events in Downing Street and Whitehall. The material was accepted by detectives from the Special Enquiry Team which is leading the investigation.

“Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, said: ‘My officers will now examine this material in detail to establish whether individuals attending the events in question may have breached the regulations. They will do so without fear or favour following our normal processes.

“In order to protect the integrity of the police investigation, as is appropriate in any case, and to be as fair as possible to those who are subject to it, the Met has asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report to the relevant events. This will only be necessary until these matters are concluded, and is to give detectives the most reliable picture of what happened at these events. We intend to complete our investigations promptly, fairly and proportionately.

“We have not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team.

“The offences under investigation, where proven, would normally result in the issuing of a fixed penalty notice; accordingly our investigative actions will be proportionate to the nature of these offences.

“Individuals who are identified as having potentially breached these regulations will normally be contacted in writing, and invited to explain their actions including whether they feel they had a reasonable excuse.

“Following this process, and where there is sufficient evidence that individuals have breached the regulations without reasonable excuse, officers will decide if enforcement action is appropriate. If the decision is to take enforcement action then a report will be sent to the ACRO Criminal Records Office which will issue the fixed penalty notice. Recipients can pay the fixed penalty and the matter will be considered closed.

“Should a recipient dispute the fixed penalty notice then the case will be referred back to the Met where officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in a magistrates’ court.

“As the Commissioner said, we will not be giving a running commentary but we will continue to update when significant progress is made in the investigative process’.”

Downing Street declined to comment after the Metropolitan Police said it had not delayed publication of the Sue Gray inquiry and stressed the timing of its release was a matter for the Cabinet Office.