Met Police refers itself to watchdog over handling of Downing St Christmas party allegations
The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the police watchdog after a complaint was made over its handling of an alleged Downing Street Christmas party during Covid restrictions last year.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb wrote to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to raise concerns over the reported event on December 18 2020 and the lack of an investigation.
Earlier this month ITV News revealed senior Downing Street staff joking about holding the event in Number 10 just four days after the event is alleged to have taken place.
In the leaked video, staff can be heard laughing and making references to “cheese and wine”, while Boris Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton remarked there was “definitely no social distancing.”
ITV News was also told an alarm was accidentally set off in Downing Street on the night of 18 December.
UK Editor Paul Brand reported sources had said a Metropolitan Police officer entered the reception of No 10 on the night to make their own checks.
Mr Johnson’s former spokeswoman Allegra Stratton quit after ITV News revealed the leaked footage.
Boris Johnson apologised for the video, but did not confirm a party took place, though it is now at the centre of an investigation being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray examining lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.
Initially Cabinet Secretary Simon Case had been leading the investigation, until it emerged his department’s office held its own gathering.
In her complaint, Lady Jones said there is a “case to answer” for the Met “aiding and abetting a criminal offence, or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of government politicians and their staff” due to the “extensive” police presence in Downing Street.
The Metropolitan Police has now replied to confirm her complaint has been split into two parts.
Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O’Sullivan, directorate of professional standards, told the Green Party peer in a letter: “I have referred your complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct given that you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS police officers.
“The IOPC will now make a determination as to whether the complaint needs to be investigated and if so, how.”
On the second part, a Met inspector said it relates to Lady Jones’s complaint that Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has “refused to investigate allegations of an unlawful gathering on December 18 2020.
“The Metropolitan Police Service is not the appropriate authority to handle complaints about the commissioner and, as such, this has been referred to MOPAC.”
MOPAC is the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime, which sets the direction and budget for the Met.
An IOPC spokesperson told the PA news agency: “We can confirm that, on Friday December 17, we received a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service of a complaint about an alleged party at Downing Street in December 2020.
“We are assessing it to determine what, if any, further action may be required from us.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime said: “A complaint has been received and is under consideration.”