Leaked Met Questionnaire: No 10 Staffers Asked to Give Excuse for Alleged Parties 'Under Caution'

© AFP 2023 / NIKLAS HALLE'NA light shines above the door of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London on January 31, 2022
A light shines above the door of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London on January 31, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.02.2022
Late last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson handed a legal questionnaire to the Metropolitan Police, who are investigating claims of lockdown-breaking parties at Number 10 between 2020 and 2021. Downing Street previously said that the PM's responses to the document, which he received on 11 February, will not be made available to the public.
Downing Street staffers were asked by Scotland Yard to provide a "reasonable excuse" for attending parties at Number 10 during COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, according to a Metropolitan Police (Met) questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by ITV.
The questionnaire, which has formal legal status, was earlier sent out by the Met to all those believed to have attended the 12 Downing Street social gatherings being investigated by Scotland Yard. Some Downing Street insiders are yet to receive the document.
ITV reported that the leaked copy of the questionnaire shows that the document states at the beginning that the recipients have an opportunity to provide "a written statement under caution".

"You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you subsequently rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence", the document reportedly reads.

The questionnaire allegedly contains about a dozen questions, such as "Did you participate in a gathering on a specific date?", "What was the purpose of your participation in that gathering?", and "Did you interact with, or undertake any activity with, other persons present at the gathering? If yes, please provide details".
According to the leaked copy, the recipients are also asked to elaborate on the timing of their attendance at the alleged Number 10 parties and on how many others were present there.

The document then purportedly provides the recipients with a chance to justify their actions by asking: "What, if any, lawful exception applied to the gathering and/or what reasonable excuse did you have for participating in the gathering?"

ITV's report comes a few days after a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had returned the Met questionnaire to Scotland Yard, a document he received on 11 February.
Although the spokesperson added that Johnson's responses will not be made public, media reports claimed that the PM ostensibly argued in the questionnaire that he attended some of the parties in a work capacity.

Met's 'Partygate' Probe

The Met probe has already seen more than 50 people involved in the "partygate" scandal contacted. While Scotland Yard earlier stated those individuals will not necessarily be slapped with fines, it added that if "officers believe it is appropriate because the COVID regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice will normally be issued".
The investigation follows the publication of the initial findings of senior civil servant Sue Gray's report on the partygate allegations, which pointed out that there were "failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office" and that "some of the events should not have been allowed to take place".

The preliminary findings added that "some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify", also referring to the alleged excessive consumption of alcohol during the parties, which is "not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time". The release of the initial findings was followed by Johnson apologising and reshuffling his senior staff, but making it clear that he intended to "get on" with his job.

In a separate development earlier this month, UK media outlets claimed that more than 100 Conservative MPs will be ready to turn against Johnson if a no-confidence vote against him is triggered. It takes 54 letters of no confidence from Conservative MPs to trigger such a vote. Between 30 and 45 lawmakers are understood to have already sent letters to the chair of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, with many authors deciding not to reveal their intentions.
The nine MPs, including Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall, Tobias Ellwood, Peter Aldous, Andrew Bridgen, Douglas Ross, Roger Gale, Aaron Bell, and Nick Gibb, earlier publicly confirmed that they had written to Brady.
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