Boris Johnson warned of Met Police’s ‘nuclear option’ in party row

Boris Johnson: Expert on ‘nuclear option’ police could pursue

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Barrister Adam Wagner has claimed that the Prime Minister could be potentially be charged with “misconduct in public office” if the Metropolitan Police investigation uncovers a “real breach of public trust” on the part of Boris Johnson over parties held during Coronavirus lockdowns. 

Mr Wagner told Sky News: “You have to look at exactly what the law was at the time.

“So in June of 2020, you could get £100 fixed penalty notice or be charged with a criminal offence, but the high likelihood is the police if they find evidence of criminality, that they will give those fixed penalty notes because that’s what they did throughout the pandemic. That was their policy.

“As you get later in the pandemic, there are different levels of fixed penalty notices you remember, there’s something called the organiser offence, which leads to a £10,000 fixed penalty notice for holding or being involved in the holding of a gathering of over 30 people without a reasonable excuse.

“Also floating around there were other potential criminal offences the one that the police have used and the Metropolitan Police have used in relation to Coronavirus offences is under the Serious Crime Act, inciting other people to commit criminal offences which they’ve used for example with Piers Corbyn for organising and anti lockdown protests and he’s been I think is going to trial in May.”

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He added: “The other sort of nuclear option for the police if they find a real breach of public trust, sort of knowing breaches of the law by public officials there is misconduct in public office, and that’s a whole different ballgame to a fixed penalty notice because you can potentially go to prison for that.”

It comes as Prime Minister fights to hold onto the keys of Number 10 amid continued uproar over lockdown breaching parties at Downing Street. 

Mr Johnson apologised last Wednesday for attending a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, when the rest of the country was in lockdown, sparking furious calls for him to resign. 

Police have launched their own probe into multiple events in No 10 after being passed information from the inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said investigations into historic allegations of Covid regulation flouting were carried out in cases of the “most serious and flagrant” breaches, and when it was considered those involved “ought to have known that what they were doing was an offence”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman signalled that Boris Johnson would be willing to speak to those at Scotland Yard investigating the alleged breaches of coronavirus rules.

However, he said Mr Johnson believes he has not broken the law.

Downing Street has insisted it is the “intention” to publish the official Gray inquiry into partying allegations amid speculation the version could be redacted or edited.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has been among those calling for it to be published in full, as he warned against a possible “cover-up” if it is not.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The findings will be made public in line with the terms of reference.

“It is our intention to publish those findings as received.”

Pressed on why full publication was not guaranteed, the spokesman said: “It is simply a reflection of the fact that we have not received the findings and don’t know its format, that’s why it remains our intention to publish it as received.”

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