An ex-chief superintendent of Metropolitan Police has stated that he is “confused” about why Sue Gray should be forced to remove details from her partygate investigation report.
Dal Babu made a harsh assessment of the way the police handled the case and stated that he would have expected a criminal investigation to be launched sooner than it was.
Despite mounting evidence, the Met had repeatedly refused to investigate any allegations of Downing Street rule-breaking. Commissioner Cressida Dick announced Tuesday that a criminal investigation had been opened.
This decision was made after Ms Gray, the civil servant who investigated partygate, passed on to the force evidence that she had uncovered of possible criminal wrongdoing.
The Met issued a statement explaining that it had asked Ms. Gray to make “minimal references” to Downing Street events.
However, Mr Babu stated that he was unable to understand why the report would hinder the police investigation. It has no legal standing and there is a lot of evidence already in the public domain.
Initial statements by the force that it didn’t investigate Covid breaches retrospectively were disputed. However, they insist there is insufficient evidence to make an investigation until this week.
However, Mr Babu stated that he would have expected the police “to intervene at a much earlier point”, given the “significant evidence” of criminality.
The force stated in a statement that it requested minimal mention of the Cabinet Office report to cover the Met’s investigation.
“The Met didn’t ask for limitations on other events or for the report being delayed. However, we have been in constant contact with the Cabinet Office regarding the contents of the report and any possible prejudices to our investigation.”
Ken Macdonald (ex-director of public prosecutions) said that the decision seemed “disproportionate” given the “very strong” public interest in the report’s rapid publication. Unless there is “more severe conduct”,
Mr Babu explained how the Met would conduct its investigation. He said that police officers will enter and caution witnesses. They’ll interview them and issue Fixed Penalty Notices. It is quite simple.
“So, I am a little confused as to why the report might be an obstacle for the police moving forward.”
This request seems to be the reason why the inquiry hasn’t yet been released, despite Boris Johnson holding the premiership.
Robert Peston, ITV News Political Editor, said that the intervention makes it “hard” to imagine how Ms Gray could publish anything meaningful before police have completed their inquiries.
Sadiq Khan’s spokesperson said that Sadiq had always stated that the Met should police without fear or favor.
Public trust will be damaged if there is not a thorough investigation and transparency throughout the process.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, stated that the situation was getting “murkier” by the minute, adding that it seems Johnson is being helped by inquiry.
She continued: “I doubt Johnson cares too much about the reputations or institutions of other people – so long as he is saving his own skin.” These things are important. Public trust is dependent on the prompt conclusion and publication of all findings.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, said that Johnson was not fit for office and that the scandal over rule-breaking at Downing Street was distracting Johnson from dealing with the cost of living crisis.
“I want to see Sue Gray’s complete report and the investigation completed as soon as possible.
“Because the whole Government is paralysed by the police looking at what the Prime Minster was doing in Downing Street, we are in this situation.
“On one hand, people are really concerned about their bills. On the other hand, there are investigations into the prime minister’s activities.
“He has paralysed government, so the sooner we get both full report and investigation completed, then the better.”
Is there a reason for the delay? What will happen if there is no publication today?
Ms Gray’s investigation, which was completed on Tuesday, is ongoing. She has continued contact with the Met Police.
Her team is reportedly examining how to deal with police demands.
Anushka Asthana, Deputy Political Editor, says that the report has been completed in its entirety and that Ms Gray’s team are weighing up three options. One is to ignore the Met’s request and publish the entire report. The other is very unlikely.
They could also send the prime minister a redacted copy of the report. This removes any details that the police request.
Another option is to wait for the police investigation results to be completed before publishing.
What does that mean for Boris Johnson,
The prime minister was originally expected to release his report Wednesday. Any delay gives him more time to win support from Tory MPs, who were considering whether or not to remove him.
Backbench Tories dissatisfied with the PM’s handling partygate had stated that they would not make a decision on whether he should remain prime minister until Ms Gray’s report has been published.
The PM has been meeting face-to-face with scores of Tory MPs to convince them that he is the right man to lead their party.
It is hard to imagine how he could hold onto power if Ms Gray’s or the police investigation finds that he knowingly violated the rules and misled Parliament by claiming he always followed them.
If he lies to Parliament, more letters of no confidence will be sent to him. It takes 54 votes to trigger a motion of no confidence that could see Mr Johnson removed as Tory leader.