Met Police admit two questionnaires weren’t returned in their Partygate probe but Scotland Yard claims this ‘spurred officers on’
- Police reveal, of a total of 204 questionnaires issued, two were not replied to
- Scotland Yard insist officers ‘spurred on’ rather than ‘impeded’ by non-responses
- PM, Carrie Johnson and Rishi Sunak among those who did fill out questionnaires
The Metropolitan Police have admitted two questionnaires were not returned to them during their Partygate investigation into Covid rule-breaking in Downing Street.
Scotland Yard revealed, of a total of 204 questionnaires issued as part of their Operation Hillman probe, two were not responded to.
But the force insisted that officers were ‘spurred on’ rather than ‘impeded’ by the non-responses and that it did not prevent them from issuing fines.
Last month, the Met Police announced Operation Hillman had concluded with 126 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) given out for breaches of Coronavirus regulations in Government buildings.
Officers pored through 345 documents and 510 photographs as part of their work.
But a key part of their investigative process was also the issuing of questionnaires, which asked for an account and explanation of the recipient’s participation in lockdown-busting events.
The questionnaires held formal legal status, with Scotland Yard having set a seven-day deadline for reply and warned they ‘must be answered truthfully’.
Durham Police have similarly sent questionnaires to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner over the Beergate allegations.
Boris Johnson, pictured at a Partygate gathering in Number 10, was among those issued with a Met Police questionnaire
Scotland Yard revealed, of a total of 204 questionnaires issued as part of their Operation Hillman probe, two were not responded to
The admission from Scotland Yard came in reply to questions about Operation Hillman from Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain
Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who were all fined over Partygate – all filled in questionnaires and returned them to the Met Police.
But it has now been revealed how two questionnaires were never returned to Scotland Yard.
In reply to questions about Operation Hillman from Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain, Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Jane Conners wrote in a letter: ‘We issued a total of 204 questionnaires. Only two questionnaires were not returned.
‘The two individuals sent the questionnaires were still assessed against all the available evidence and, while I cannot give individual details, I can confirm that a “non-response” certainly did not prevent us from referring for an FPN to be issued if it was appropriate to do so.
‘As the acting commissioner said at the London Assembly’s police and crime committee, failure to return a questionnaire spurred the team on rather than impeded them.
‘We understand the strong interest, feelings and opinions on this case given the pandemic affected so many people in so many ways.
‘Therefore, I can assure you and the public once again that the small but skilled team investigating this matter have acted diligently, proportionately, carefully, and impartially.’
Ms Chamberlain had quizzed Scotland Yard about reports a number of higher ranking officials had not returned their questionnaires.
She said: ‘Serious questions remain around the Met Police’s investigation into Boris Johnson’s law-breaking parties in Downing Street.
‘Time and again Johnson has lied and tried to cover up his criminal behaviour. The public now deserves full transparency.
‘It’s important that we find out more about the two individuals who failed to return a questionnaire to the police, whether they were Conservative ministers or senior officials, and if one or both then received a fine.
‘We also need urgent clarity over claims that some individuals failed to properly fill in their questionnaires.
‘The public would be rightly angry if it turns out Johnson or his Downing Street evaded justice by failing to properly answer questions from the police.’
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