A Downing street staff have been asked by police to provide a “lawful exception” or “reasonable excuse” for lockdown party which took place during lockdown, the ‘party gate’ questionnaire shows.
A copy of the questionnaire was leaked to ITV news showing the questions that were asked of around 50 people the Met said they would quiz about the event – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson has already completed the questionnaire in relation to alleged parties held in Downing Street while England was under tough Covid restrictions.
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The Metropolitan Police is investigating 12 events, including as many as six which the Prime Minister is reported to have attended.
ITV news reported the document states at the outset that those accused have an opportunity to provide “a written statement under caution”.
It provides them with a chance to justify their actions, asking: “What, if any, lawful exception applied to the gathering and/or what reasonable excuse did you have for participating in the gathering?”
The questionnaire asks for timings of the person’s attendance at the party; and how many others were present, the report states.
Criminal law barrister Andrew Keogh told ITV News the questionnaire “suggests that this is not a thorough investigation”. He said the questions posed are “as basic as you can possibly imagine them to be”.
“It just suggests that there’s no effort going into any real investigation of ascertaining who did what; when and where and why,” he told the broadcaster
“This is anything but a rigorous investigation; it’s the direct opposite,” “there’s just no effort gone into this at all”.
A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: “In any investigation; officers seek independent accounts from each individual; as free from the influence of others’ recollections as possible.
“The Cabinet Office’s offer to individuals; to have very limited access to the notes of information individuals provided in their own interview; is not inconsistent with the Met’s position; as it relates solely to an individual’s own account; rather than relating to the recollection of others.”
The investigation by the Met into whether strict Covid rules were broken by the Met; followed weeks of revelations of parties in No 10 and Whitehall when the nation was in lockdown.
It follows a Whitehall probe, led by senior civil servant Sue Gray; whose findings led to calls for Mr Johnson to resign.