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Police promise to finish Partygate investigation ‘promptly’ after receiving evidence

Police promise to finish Partygate investigation ‘promptly’ after receiving evidence
Scotland Yard insists it did ‘not delay’ Gray report, as No 10 prepares to receive redacted version

le police métropolitaine pledged to complete its investigation into alleged breaches of Covid rules at government gatherings “promptly” after receiving material requested from Sue Gray’s team on Friday.

Scotland Yard also insisted it had “not delayed” the report by the senior civil servant into the partygate scandal, and said the timing of the Gray report’s release was a matter for the Cabinet Office.

The statement came as it emerged said that a heavily-censored version of the Gray report into allegations of lockdown-breaching parties at 10 Downing Street will be presented to Boris Johnson “shortly”.

A source close to the investigation team told L'indépendant that – in line with the requests from Scotland Yard – the report will be stripped of details that officers fear could compromise their separate inquiry.

Commander Catherine Roper said officers would now examine all the material from Ms Gray “in detail to establish whether individuals attending the events in question may have breached the regulations”.

The senior officer – who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command – said the force would conduct inquiries “without fear or favour” and would be writing to those identified by Ms Gray’s team “as having potentially breached these regulations”.

Ms Roper also confirmed that the offences under investigation, where proven, would normally result “in the issuing of a fixed penalty notice” – ruling out speculation officers could be looking at more serious offences.

Explaining why the Met had asked Ms Gray’s team for “minimal reference” to events subject to its own probe, Ms Roper said it was necessary “in order to protect the integrity of the police investigation” and “to be as fair as possible to those who are subject to it”.

The senior Met figure added: “This will only be necessary until these matters are concluded and is to give detectives the most reliable picture of what happened at these events. We intend to complete our investigations promptly, fairly and proportionately.”

The force previously argued the constraints on the Cabinet Office report into “partygate” were necessary to “avoid any prejudice to our investigation”. The new statement, issued on Friday evening, contains no mention of the term “prejudice”.

Ms Roper added: “We have not delayed this report and the timing of its release is a matter for the Cabinet Office inquiry team.”

Officers leading the probe are understood to be concerned that they will not be able to investigate effectively if key details and pieces of evidence, such as photos, are released to the general public.

Met chief Dame Cressida Dick announced the investigation on Tuesday, after weeks of pressure, as the force insisted it would only investigate if it received evidence of potential criminal offences from the Cabinet Office.

In the latest statement, Ms Roper said that “where there is sufficient evidence that individuals have breached the regulations without reasonable excuse, officers will decide if enforcement action is appropriate”.

Elle a ajouté: “If the decision is to take enforcement action then a report will be sent to the ACRO Criminal Records Office which will issue the fixed penalty notice. Recipients can pay the fixed penalty and the matter will be considered closed.”