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Case Update

The law must apply fairly to all

The Metropolitan Police investigated the various gatherings – we use a neutral expression – around 10 Downing Street during the pandemic lockdown by sending questionnaires to suspected attendees. 

Our interest is in three such gatherings:

  1. On 13 November 2020, a gathering in No. 10 on the departure of a special adviser (understood to be the former Downing Street Director of Communications)
  2. On 17 December 2020, a gathering in the Cabinet Office on the departure of a senior Cabinet Office official (understood to be a defence advisor)
  3. On 14 January 2021, a gathering at No. 10 on the departure of two No. 10 private secretaries. 

Together, these are known as the “Three Gatherings”.

It is reported that the Prime Minister did not receive questionnaires in respect of the Three Gatherings despite evidence that he attended them. Other attendees did receive questionnaires. We do not understand the decision to investigate some attendees but not the Prime Minister. 

Attendees at the Three Gatherings who received questionnaires were fined for attending them. We do not understand the decision to fine some attendees but not the Prime Minister. As we understand the law, if a gathering was prohibited it follows that all who participated in it committed an offence.

We can see no basis for holding junior civil servants to a higher standard than the Prime Minister. And that is why we – former senior police officer Lord Brian Paddick and Good Law Project – have taken the first formal step in further judicial review proceedings against the Metropolitan Police. 

We invite the Met to confirm it will rectify its failures to investigate the Prime Minister’s participation in the Three Gatherings, or provide us with its reasons so we can assess the lawfulness of its refusal. Unless it does, and we have given it 14 days to comply, we will begin further judicial review proceedings. 

Lord Paddick: “If the Met is to avoid further deterioration in public trust and confidence, they must explain why they failed to even question the Prime Minister about his attendance at these events. We are simply asking the Met to either explain or investigate further, and if necessary we will ask the Courts to force the Met to do so.”

It was only after Good Law Project began judicial review proceedings in January that the Met agreed to investigate at all. And we will not hesitate to commence further proceedings to ensure it investigates them properly.

For the rule of law to operate it must operate fairly, without favour to the powerful. We will do what we can to ensure it does.


Lord Paddick and Good Law Project have instructed the same team as acted in the previous judicial review of the Met: Bindman LLP and Danny Friedman QC leading Adam Wagner.

Read our letter to the Met in full here

Good Law Project only exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. If you’re in a position to support our work, you can do so here.

Case

This article is part of our Met Police: Investigate the Downing Street Christmas Party case

In 2020, as the country went into a strict Covid-19 lockdown, No 10 staff were reportedly having Christmas parties. And videos have emerged of those closest to Boris Johnson, including his then press secretary, laughing as they practised how to lie to us about it.

See more about this case