Update on assessment of alleged breaches of Covid Regulations
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The Met and Thames Valley Police have assessed new material in relation to potential breaches of Covid Regulations in 2020 and 2021. The Met will be opening one investigation and re-opening a previous investigation.
The approach to the assessment of these events has been consistent, enforcing the law carefully, thoroughly, proportionately, impartially and without fear or favour.
The Met has previously published criteria for assessing when to launch investigations into breaches of the Regulations reported retrospectively.
This will apply only when there is evidence of a serious and flagrant breach and where:
It is proportionate and there is evidence that those involved knew or ought to have known what they were doing was an offence.
Not investigating would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law.
There is little ambiguity around the absence of a reasonable defence.
These criteria have also been used in the assessment made by Thames Valley Police of the potential breaches in their jurisdiction.
Having applied those criteria, the Met carried out a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of breaches of Covid Regulations at Downing Street and Whitehall, under Operation Hillman.
That investigation resulted in 126 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPNs) referrals.
The Met also previously carried out an investigation into an event in Matthew Parker Street on 14 December 2020.
Based on the information available at the time, that investigation did not lead to FPNs, but outcome letters sent to some participants stated that “the Metropolitan Police reserves the right to revisit this decision in the event that further significant evidence comes to light.” The receipt of video evidence has resulted in the Met revisiting and updating the assessment.
A number of other events were subsequently referred to the Met and Thames Valley Police with regard to Chequers.
Officers have now assessed these events against the serious and flagrant retrospective criteria for alleged breaches of Covid Regulations, with the following results:
Following assessment of new evidence that was not previously provided to officers, the Met is now re-opening an investigation into potential breaches of the Regulations at an event in Matthew Parker Street on 14 December 2020.
Following assessment of material relating to a gathering in Parliament, the Met is opening an investigation into potential breaches of the Regulations at an event on 8 December 2020.
The Met and Thames Valley Police have assessed material referred by the Cabinet Office regarding potential breaches of the Regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Downing Street and Chequers. Based on an assessment of that material and an account provided regarding the diary entries, and also having sought some further clarification, the Met and Thames Valley Police have each assessed the events in their jurisdiction and concluded that they do not meet the retrospective criteria for opening an investigation.
The Met and Thames Valley Police continue to reserve the right to revisit assessments in the event that further significant evidence comes to light.
It would not be appropriate to prejudge the outcome of those ongoing investigations or to provide a running commentary on their progress.
The Met will provide further updates at the appropriate time.