Boris Johnson reported to police over new ‘potential lockdown breaches’
Boris Johnson has been referred to the police by the Cabinet Office over further potential rule breaches during the pandemic.
Information has been passed to two forces over alleged events at both Chequers and within Downing Street.
It relates to entries in the former prime minister’s official diary and came to light during a review of documents ahead of the Covid public inquiry.
The Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police both said they were “currently assessing” information they had received about potential breaches of health regulations between June 2020 and May 2021.
A spokesman for Mr Johnson has said the events were lawful and denied wrongdoing.
According to The Times, which first reported the story, his ministerial diary revealed visits by friends to Chequers – the prime minister’s grace and favour residence in Buckinghamshire – during the pandemic.
A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “Some abbreviated entries in Mr Johnson’s official diary were queried by 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.”
It was also suggested the move was “politically motivated” and Mr Johnson had been given no notice of the report.
Mr Johnson was previously handed a fixed-penalty notice, along with Rishi Sunak, over a June 2020 Downing Street gathering for the then-prime minister’s 56th birthday.
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.”
The Metropolitan Police said: “We are in receipt of information from the Cabinet Office passed to us on May 19 2023, which we are currently assessing. It 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 called on Mr Johnson to “consider his position as an MP” following the report.
“It’s outrageous that rumours of alleged rule-breaking by Boris Johnson are still being drip-fed to the public,” deputy leader Daisy Cooper said.
“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.
“Sunak must make sure that not a single penny more of taxpayer money is spent on Johnson’s legal fund; and Johnson should finally do one decent thing and consider his position as an MP.”
Lindsay Jackson, spokeswoman for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, branded Mr Johnson “totally unfit for any form of public service” and suggested he “quietly step back from public life”.
Ms Jackson said: “These revelations make a grim mockery of Boris Johnson’s claims that he didn’t break his own lockdown rules. He lied when he said to our faces that he’d done ‘all he could’ to protect our loved ones, he lied again when he said the rules hadn’t been broken in No 10, and he’s lied over and over again since then when he’s denied it.
“He is totally unfit for any form of public service, never mind being the prime minister. His legacy is one of lying, complete contempt for the ordinary people he was supposed to protect, and above all presiding over the deaths of nearly 200,000 people.
“If he had any respect he’d quietly step back from public life and reflect on the pain and suffering he has inflicted on so many.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has accused Mr Sunak of being “too weak” to end Boris Johnson’s taxpayer-funded legal support.
She said: “These new allegations are for the police to examine but the Government must explain who else knew at the time and why this has only now come to light.
“The public will be shocked that they’re still paying Boris Johnson’s legal bills while he rakes in millions from speaking gigs, all because Rishi Sunak is too weak to put a stop to it.
“The Conservatives are now so preoccupied by their own scandals and haunted by their own failure that they are unable to tackle the problems facing the country. Only a Labour government can turn the page on 13 years of Tory sleaze.”
The Government expects to pay an estimated £222,000 in legal fees to help Mr Johnson defend himself in the privileges committee inquiry into whether he lied to MPs.