Scotland Yard is opening an investigation into allegations that coronavirus regulations were breached in a meeting attended by Sir Bernard Jenkin on December 8, 2020.
The Metropolitan Police also confirmed that it was reopening an investigation into possible lockdown rule breaches at a Christmas party held at the Conservative Party headquarters in Matthew Parker Street on December 14, 2020.
However, no investigation will be launched into claims that Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, broke the rules with meetings he held at Downing Street and Checkers.
Sir Bernard, who is a member of the privileges committee that delivered a damning verdict on Mr Johnson’s conduct over partygatehe was accused of breaking the rules himself by attending an event supposedly to celebrate the 65th birthday of Baroness Jenkin, his wife, despite a ban on indoor socializing in London.
Dame Eleanor Laing, the Vice Speaker of the House of Commons, was said to have arranged a gathering over cake and drinks.
Sir Bernard previously denied attending a drinking party and an ally said no rules were broken, while Dame Eleanor insists she took advice on the restrictions.
On Tuesday night, Sir Bernard said: “It is inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.”
Johnson ‘disgracefully treated’
David Campbell Bannerman, a former Conservative MEP and Johnson ally, said: “Laing should stand aside until these allegations that she hosted a drinking party during lockdown, which allegedly included Bernard Jenkin and Ann Jenkin, are investigated.
“The Speaker, Sir Lindsay, needs his own inquiry into his actions for the good of Parliament.
“If the privileges committee were a court case, the judge would be removed and a new trial would be ordered. Parliament has treated Boris Johnson with shame and without justice. This investigation should be called a mistrial and should be reopened.”
Dame Eleanor made it clear she would not resign, saying: “As this is a live investigation, any further inquiries should be directed to the Metropolitan Police.”
Lord Cruddas, another Johnson ally, He said: “I suppose they should remain silent if there is a police investigation, but Jenkin should resign immediately because he is under investigation, and Dame Eleanor should not remain silent on her own position for the sake of the integrity of the Commons.”
Accusations of ‘monstrous hypocrisy’
Johnson was contacted for comment. After the allegations about Sir Bernard were first reported, the former prime minister accused him of “monstrous hypocrisy” and claimed that he could no longer be considered a “valid judge”.
In his letter to Dame Harriet Harman, who led the privileges committee’s inquiry, Johnson said: “If you did in fact attend an event that blatantly broke the rules, you would be guilty of doing exactly what you claim I did.”
A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: “Following assessment of material relating to a meeting in Parliament, the Met is opening an investigation into possible breaches of regulations at an event on 8 December 2020.”
The Met will also reopen an investigation into a “jingle and mingle” party allegedly attended by Conservative Party staffers who had been working on the campaign to then London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey.
It had previously been investigated by police, but no fines were issued amid claims it was a work-related event.
However, a video later surfaced in which guests could be seen dancing with each other in front of a table laden with buffet food. Sir Mark Rowley, Met Commissioner, said it told a “much richer and clearer” story.
A Met spokesperson said: “Following evaluation of new evidence not previously provided to officials, the Met is now reopening an investigation into possible breaches of regulations at an event on Matthew Parker Street on December 14, 2020.”
Daisy Cooper, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Once again, Tory politicians are facing accusations that they broke the rules we were all asked to follow.
“Rishi Sunak needs to confirm that he will ask for the stripping of honors from anyone found to have violated the law. Anything less would make a complete mockery of his promise to lead with integrity.
“You should also intervene to prevent Shaun Bailey from taking your seat as a partner while this investigation takes place. There is no way Shaun Bailey is going to be allowed to join the House of Lords while he is under police investigation.”
No investigation of former prime minister
Allegations that Johnson broke the rules with a series of meetings at Downing Street and Checkers in 2020 and 2021 will not be investigated, the Met said.
Scotland Yard received information about the meetings from Cabinet Office officials who were reviewing the former Prime Minister’s diaries in preparation for the Covid Inquiry.
A Met spokesperson said: “Met and Thames Valley Police have assessed material submitted by the Cabinet Office regarding possible breaches of the Regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Downing Street and Checkers.
“Based on an evaluation of that material and an account provided in respect of the diary entries, and also having sought further clarification, Met and Thames Valley Police have assessed the events in their jurisdiction and have come to the conclusion that they do not meet the retrospective criteria for opening an investigation.
“Met and Thames Valley Police continue to reserve the right to review assessments should further significant evidence come to light.”
A government source said: “Civil officials told the police about Boris’s diary entries without telling his ministers. Ministers are pleased that this matter can be put in the past where it belongs.”