The Metropolitan Police have now confirmed they have received the requested material from the Cabinet Office to support the investigation into possible lockdown breaches in both Downing Street and Whitehall.
Scotland Yard said officers would now examine the material “without fear or favour” to establish whether any rules were broken. They added this has not delayed publication of the Sue Gray report.
The Prime Minister yesterday denied delaying publication himself amid rumours it could be next Monday before its release. Though The Metropolitan Police confirmed on Friday it asked “for minimal reference” to be made in the report to alleged parties at Downing Street under investigation by the force.
When questioned by journalists on his visit to North Wales on Thursday Boris Johnson did insist the report would be published in full whenever it arrives on his desk – however, because of security issues and the minimal reference requests this may not be the case.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party could attempt to use parliamentary procedures to try and force the publication of the document in full if the government chooses not to do so.
The enquiry led by one of Whitehall’s top civil servants, looking into alleged rule-breaking over parties and get-togethers in Downing Street is set to become an uncomfortable read by the PM, under fire from all directions following a host of claims ranging from alleged lying over the evacuation of animals from Afghanistan to his Foreign Secretary using an expensive private jet to fly to security meetings in Australia.
He told the house at PMQ’s on Wednesday he would “of course” resign if Ms Gray finds he knowingly misled Parliament by insisting he followed all coronavirus rules throughout the pandemic.
Asked by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer if he will release the entirety of Ms Gray’s report, the Prime Minister replied: “We’ve got to leave the report to the independent investigator, as he knows, of course when I receive it, of course, I will do exactly what I said.”
Sir Keir said anything other than the document being published “in full” would amount to a “cover up”.
According to Convention the report must first be made available to MPs before the public, meaning if it’s not published by Friday, all this will happen after the weekend. Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle said yesterday members would likely be given time to “digest” the information.
Political pundits believe the delay is being caused by government lawyers and the police working out whether the report can be published in full before the Metropolitan Police investigation concludes.
The police investigation sheds a whole new light on the efforts of Sue Gray with some experts believing it could prove worthless in the long run, because the Met will start from scratch. Given this morning’s breaking news that could be the case. Some worry an unredacted version of the report could prejudice the policy inquiry.
A parliamentary spokesperson said: “It is simply a reflection of the fact that we have not received the findings and don’t know its format, that’s why it remains our intention to publish it as received,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
When it comes to a possible leadership contest, we do know more than 20 letters have already been delivered to the office of Grahame Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee. This is still a long way short of the 54 needed to trigger a party election.
Mr Johnson has also been meeting with several Tory MPs to reassure them about events going forward. Asian Standard has learned however, more than 1,000 letters from the public, many of them Tory voters, have arrived at Mr Brady’s office calling for the PM to be removed from the job.
It seems the pressure being exuded on Boris Johnson to resign shows no sign of easing off.