A few months ago Sue Gray became a household name for her investigation into Partygate. Since the police have got involved she seems to have gone missing.
Despite whatever Jacob Rees-Mogg has to say on the matter, Partygate is not “fluff”. Our Prime Minister and other members of government broke the laws that they themselves had written. The police, who had zealously enforced this law for years (even going so far as to brag about their “collars” on social media) failed to act. This rightly sparked outrage for a whole host of reasons.
Met officers were present when the law breaking occurred
Downing Street has the heaviest police presence of any road in London. There are dozens of police officers on site, especially when the Prime Minister (who is personally guarded by close protection officers) is present. It stands to reason, therefore, that police officers were present at the time law breaking was purported to have occurred. This happened multiple times (at least 6 occasions on which we know the Prime Minister was present). The decision to ignore this was routine.
Despite the obvious fact that the police were present, no officer has taken accountability. In fact, they repeatedly denied all knowledge of the parties. One has to question the effectiveness of our police force if they are unable to discern law breaking taking place under their nose. Given their officers are complicit, there are obvious questions about how impartial they can really be.
The Met Police effectively suppressed Sue Gray’s report
After the first parties came to light, the government issued a ludicrous statement that the police do not investigate historic crimes. The Met seemingly backed this position. Even after details of 17 parties had been made public, the Met continued to resist calls to investigate. They stuck by this approach right up until a few day’s before Sue Gray was set to release her report.
The intervention of the Met led to the report being delayed and heavily redacted. The police denied requested the redactions. This was a lie. Sue Gray has stated that the Met told her to make “minimal reference to the gatherings”. How can you report on illegal gatherings without reference to gatherings? The timing and behaviour of the police let Johnson wriggle off the hook. It is the first time in history an individual has been relieved at the news of a police investigation.
It also raises serious questions around whether or not Sue Gray had discovered that the police had been complicit. Could the intervention have been an effort to close rank and prevent damaging allegations about Met conduct from coming to light?
The investigation has been sluggish and lax
The Met took over the investigation at the end of January. At this point, Sue Gray had pretty much finished her investigation. The investigation took a few weeks and offered a thorough account. Given that the report was complete and lines of inquiry clearly set out, the Met’s slow response is baffling. The sum total of the investigation to date has been… to send a few questionnaires out.
I accept that this is how the police might investigate summary offences. But it is clearly not appropriate when the subject of the investigation is the Prime Minister and the outcome is in the clear National Interest. It is doubly inappropriate when the police investigation is delaying the publication of a vital report.
Finally, despite the minimal effort the police have put into this investigation, it has still not completed nearly 2 months later. As a result, Johnson limps on. There is no doubt in my mind; the police have sought to protect the Prime Minister from day one.