Boris Johnson has been contacted by the Metropolitan Police as part of the investigation into anti-lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
An official questionnaire on the partygate scandal has been sent to the Prime Minister from Scotland Yard. It is understood that he was received after 9:30 p.m. on Friday evening.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm the Prime Minister has received a questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police. He will respond as required.’
The prime minister has likely been contacted by email and will now have seven days to provide his response.
The document, which is sent to anyone suspected of having attended alleged anti-lockdown parties, asks for the recipient’s account and explanation of their attendance at an event.
Scotland Yard said the questionnaire has official legal status and must be answered honestly.
Prime Minister said it would be ‘difficult’ to stay if fined
Earlier on Friday, Mr Johnson received a warning from a senior Tory MP that he would find it ‘very difficult’ to stay in office if police fined him following their investigation.
Speaking to the i newspaper, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it would be ‘difficult’ for Mr Johnson if he was handed a fixed penalty notice.
“I think it would be very difficult for anyone to stay after that,” he said.
“If you made the laws, you broke them, and the police decide you broke them…and then there’s the unredacted version [Sue Gray] relationship – the two things will come together.”
Sir Iain added that the Prime Minister being fined is ‘clearly not helpful’, continuing: ‘It will be difficult, he knows that’.
His comments were echoed by Conservative chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill.
“Regulations create an offense where you get a fixed sentence, (but) I think it’s going to be very difficult for anybody to be the chief lawmaker in the country and then break a law that they have -same set up. strength, and in particular, preached a lot to others to stick to it. You can’t have double standards,” he told Times Radio.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, posted on Twitter on Friday evening: ‘Great job Tory MPs leaving this crippled joke of an afternoon spending the next 7 days locked up with lawyers trying to remember all of his various lies as another major global crisis erupts.”
More than 50 people to contact by Met Police
Earlier in the week, Scotland Yard announced that its officers were to start contact more than 50 people suspected of having been involved in the 12 events under investigation – which has been dubbed Operation Hillman.
The Met Police said its officers would start contacting those affected by the end of the week as they progressed their investigation “at pace”. The people contacted are invited to first complete a questionnaire.
The questionnaire arrived after 9:30 p.m. tonight. But I understand that the police were in contact much earlier in the day to verify that they had a correct and active email address for the PM
(Effectively giving a warning to No10) https://t.co/xdN1TTbTys
— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) February 11, 2022
A few days ago a fresh photo emerged from Mr Johnson during a Christmas quiz in issue 10.
The Metropolitan Police are now rethinking their assessment of the event after the image of the Prime Minister was released next to an open bottle of alcohol, crisps, a person wearing tinsel and another wearing a beanie Christmas.
At the time of the event, 15 December 2020, London was under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.
This prohibited any social mixing indoors between people from different households.
MPs’ calculation around PM’s future could change immediately
In the context of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Prime Minister nevertheless has very real questions about what will happen during the investigation into the party.
This could lead to the police issuing a fixed penalty notice, which Boris Johnson could choose to accept or choose to fight.
But his party is watching very closely.
And in the event the police find out he broke lockdown rules, the calculus around the Prime Minister’s future changes immediately.
Scotland Yard said: “The Metropolitan Police Service previously assessed this event and determined that based on the evidence available at the time, it did not meet the threshold for a criminal investigation.
“This assessment is currently under review.”
This has led to the possibility of a 13th event being added to the Met Police investigation.
Although the December 15 event was not previously listed among the alleged COVID rule breaches in Issue 10 being investigation by the Met Policehe was part of the party’s investigation by senior official Sue Gray.
She has yet to release her full findings due to the ongoing Met Police investigation into 12 other alleged anti-lockdown rallies, but she initial report said the parties at Number 10 represented a “serious failure” and were “difficult to justify”.
Ms Gray has delivered over 300 images and over 500 pages of information to Scotland Yard.