Met Police to interview guests at lockdown-busting Tory Party HQ party
Met Police will speak to two people who attended party at Tory HQ last December after photograph emerged showing staffers and London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey crammed into a room ‘in breach of Covid regulations’
- Met Police say they will interview attendees of Tory Party HQ Christmas party
- Ex-mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey quit London Assembly’s policing committee
- Mr Bailey has faced calls to step down over a Christmas gathering last December
- The party on December 14 featured wine and dancing in early hours of morning
- Four staffers were disciplined by the Conservative Party, it has been confirmed
The Met Police has announced it will interview two attendees of the lockdown-busting party hosted at the Tory Party Headquarters last December.
The force, which has faced stinging criticism from some over a perceived lack of action regarding investigations into alleged gatherings at Downing Street, announced the news on Thursday evening.
It comes after pictures showed a rule-breaking event for Shaun Bailey’s mayoral campaign took place inside the party’s Westminster HQ on December 14, 2020.
Several hours earlier, then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock had announced London would move into Tier 3 restrictions – meaning the mixing of separate households indoors was strictly prohibited.
Members of Downing Street staff joined the party, which included dancing into the early hours of the morning, despite London’s Covid rules barring indoor socialising at the time.
Mr Bailey bowed to pressure after a week of intense demands for him to quit, and four staff members have been disciplined over the ‘raucous’ gathering, in which a door was reported to have been damaged.
Pictures showed a rule-breaking event for Shaun Bailey’s mayoral campaign took place inside the party’s Westminster HQ on December 14, 2020
Ex-mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has quit as chairman of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee following revelations of a Chistmas gathering he attended last year, in breach of Covid regulations
An image taken on the night last December shows Mr Bailey, 50, standing in the middle of a crowd of some 24 people huddled closely together at Conservative Party HQ with platters of food nearby.
Mr Bailey, who is teetotal, is understood to have left the party early in the evening, shortly after the picture was taken.
Eight days after the gathering, he took to Twitter to urge people to follow the rules, saying the restrictions were ‘tough on every Londoner’.
Labour, Lib Dem and Green Party politicians on the London Assembly have written to Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick to demand an investigation.
None of the partygoers are pictured wearing masks and some of them including billionaire Tory donor Nick Candy are seen raising their drinks to toast the night; while millions of Londoners were forced to self-isolate in line with Tier 2 restrictions.
At the time Britain was in the grip of a second lockdown, and London later in Tier 3 restrictions, with all indoor social gatherings banned unless they involved a single household bubble.
Despite widespread outcry – as millions of families were kept apart amid rising case numbers last year – the Met chief Cressida DIck told a phone-in on LBC radio that her force would not be investigating any alleged parties.
But the Met today said it has received a ‘significant amount of correspondence relating to allegations’ that the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations were breached at Downing Street in November and December 2020.
A string of parties attended by politicians in November and December 2020 are currently being investigated by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
If any evidence arises from the Cabinet Office’s inquiry that shows actions that could be deemed to have been criminal offences, that will be passed onto Scotland Yard.
In a public statement, a spokesperson for the Met said: ‘The Met has received a significant amount of material in relation to the allegations reported in the media.
‘All the material has been considered by detectives in detail and it does not provide evidence of a breach of the Health Protection Regulations, but restates allegations made in the media.
‘The Met is also aware of a gathering at an address in Matthew Parker Street, SW1 on 14 December 2020.
‘Officers will be making contact with two people who attended in relation to alleged breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations.
The Met, which has faced stinging criticism from some over a perceived lack of action regarding investigations into alleged gatherings at Downing Street, announced it will interview two attendees of the lockdown-busting party hosted at the Tory Party HQ
‘In line with our policy where we do not normally investigate breaches of these regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place, unless there is evidence from the Cabinet Office or other evidence comes to light, the Met will not at this time commence an investigation.’
Speaking to MailOnline’s Dan Wootton on GB News last night, Mr Bailey apologised for attending the party and called it ‘an error of judgement’.
But he then insisted the group was ‘in a workplace bubble’ and that he was only there to collect paperwork before going for an interview with BBC Newsnight.
He claimed he was only there to pose for the photo, but said he regretted not telling his colleagues that they were ‘going too far’.
‘The first thing to say is I want to start with an apology, whatever happens it was an error of judgement,’ he told GB News.
‘I want to own that. I had a young team, they had been working very hard for months at a time, and I came back from an event and they were there all set up ready to go. And I spoke to them and then we took the infamous photo.
‘I wish at that point I’d said ”hold on a second, we’re straying here, we’re going too far”, but I didn’t, and I want to own that because yes I had senior members of my team, but it is my team and I should have owned that. I just want to take that on board.
‘The other thing to say is that we were in a workplace bubble, we were working together, it felt quite natural.’
A Conservative Party spokesman said: ‘Senior CCHQ staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of [CCHQ] organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of 14th December.
‘Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Bailey campaign.’
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