Johnson referred to police over further potential Covid breaches

Boris Johnson has been referred to the police by the Cabinet Office over further potential breaches of coronavirus regulations during his time as UK prime minister.

Civil servants passed information to the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police last week that had been discovered by lawyers working for the government on evidence for submission to the public inquiry into Covid-19.

The information involves entries from Johnson’s official diary showing visits to Downing Street and Chequers, the country residence used by the UK prime minister, by his friends and family during the pandemic, The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “Information came to light during the process of preparing evidence for submission to the Covid inquiry. It was identified as part of the normal disclosure review of potentially relevant documents being undertaken by the legal team for inquiry witnesses.

“In line with obligations in the civil service code, this material has been passed to the relevant authorities and it is now a matter for them.”

A government official said the decision to refer material to the police was made without ministerial involvement and that Number 10 was only notified after the move had been made.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said: “Some abbreviated entries in Mr Johnson’s official diary were queried by [the] Cabinet Office during preparation for the Covid inquiry.

“Following an examination of the entries, Mr Johnson’s lawyers wrote to the Cabinet Office and privileges committee explaining that the events were lawful and were not breaches of any Covid regulations.”

The House of Commons privileges committee is investigating whether Johnson deliberately misled MPs about Downing Street parties held during coronavirus restrictions.

An ally of Johnson said the referral by the Cabinet Office was “clearly politically motivated” and that civil servants had given him no notice of the matter so he could respond before the information was passed to the police.

The ally added Johnson has been “advised by lawyers that all of these events were lawful and in no way broke any restrictions” and that he had not been contacted by the police.

The last year of Johnson’s premiership was largely defined by revelations about parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall during Covid restrictions. Following a Met investigation which ended in May 2022, 83 individuals were issued with 126 fines.

Johnson became the first prime minister found to have committed a criminal offence while in office after attending a birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020 that was found to have breached coronavirus rules.

In April 2022, Johnson, his wife Carrie and the chancellor at the time, Rishi Sunak, paid fines for attending the party.

The Met said in a statement on Tuesday that it was “currently assessing” information it had received from the Cabinet Office on May 19 that “relates to potential breaches of the health protection regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Downing Street”.

Thames Valley police said: “On Thursday we received a report of potential breaches of the health protection regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Chequers, Buckinghamshire. We are currently assessing this information.”

The Liberal Democrats on Tuesday called on Johnson to step down as Conservative MP for Uxbridge.

“The fact that it’s one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us still triggers a raw sense of injustice in millions of people,” said Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper. “Johnson should finally do one decent thing and consider his position as an MP.”

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