Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has decided it will not investigate how the Metropolitan police handled allegations about an alleged Christmas party at Downing Street during lockdown.
Concerns were raised about the Met’s response after rumours about the party came to light this month, with allegations suggesting the event took place on December 18, 2020, when millions of people across the country observed government rules to keep their distance from loved ones.
The Met referred itself to the IOPC following comments made by Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, who claimed the police must have been aware of a gathering which took place against the rules.
Lady Jones expressed belief the Met had a ‘case to answer’ in her complaint, cited by Sky News, accusing the Met of ‘aiding and abetting a criminal offence or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of government politicians and their staff’.
She claimed there was an ‘extensive’ police presence in Downing Street, writing: ‘If there was an unlawful gathering taking place at Number 10 Downing Street then the police must have known, and were highly likely to have played an active part in organising or facilitating the illegal gathering.’
The complaint was split into two parts, with the first referred to the IOPC and the second referred to the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (Mopac), as it related to Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and claimed she ‘refused to investigate allegations of an unlawful gathering on 18 December 2020’.
The IOPC has now responded to the Met’s referral to say it was ‘invalid’, and returned it to Scotland Yard to ‘handle as it determines would be appropriate.’
In a statement, the watchdog said:
There was nothing within the referral to indicate the complainant was physically present or nearby when officers stationed at Downing Street allegedly failed to enforce COVID rules.
Nor is there a suggestion that they were physically present or sufficiently nearby when the effects of the officers’ alleged actions occurred.
If evidence were to come to light that anyone serving with the police may have breached standards of professional behaviour or committed a criminal offence, linked to the alleged party, we have reminded the Metropolitan Police of its obligations to refer relevant matters to us, irrespective of whether or not a valid complaint has been made.
A valid complaint can only be made by the watchdog where a person or someone acting on their behalf has been adversely affected by alleged conduct or its effects, Sky News reports.
Mopac is still assessing its part of the complaint to determine if further action is necessary.
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