Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into potential breaches of coronavirus laws at a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said on Tuesday officers were now investigating potential offences over two years after being passed information from the Sue Gray inquiry.
The move plunges Boris Johnson into deeper jeopardy ahead of the publication of the investigation by Ms Gray, a senior civil servant in the Cabinet Office.
The department did not immediately confirm reports suggesting the report will be further delayed pending the police investigation.
Dame Cressida told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee: “What I can tell you this morning is that as a result of the information provided by the Cabinet Office inquiry team and, secondly, my officers’ own assessment, I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations.”
She pledged to only give updates at “significant points” and declined to say which alleged parties are under investigation, nor would she put a timeline on when officers could detail their findings.
“The fact that we are now investigating does not, of course, mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved,” she said.
Dame Cressida said investigations are carried out into “the most serious and flagrant type of breach” where individuals knew they were committing an offence or “ought to have known”.
She said “several other events” that appeared to have taken place in Downing Street and Whitehall had also been assessed, but they were not thought to have reached the threshold for criminal investigation.
A further delay to the long-awaited publication of Ms Gray’s inquiry will prolong the saga when Mr Johnson and others in the Tory party want it concluded.