Boris Johnson cleared of allegations he breached more lockdown rulesJuly 4, 2023
Boris Johnson is cleared of ‘malicious’ allegations he breached further lockdown rules by Chequers probe police
- Police rejected ‘evidence’ after ruling it didn’t meet threshold for investigation
- This is a vindication for former PM who always insisted claims were ‘untrue’
Boris Johnson was tonight cleared of ‘malicious’ allegations that he breached further lockdown rules.
Police rejected fresh ‘evidence’ submitted by the Cabinet Office after ruling it did not meet the threshold for investigation.
The development is a vindication for the former Prime Minister, who had always insisted the claims were ‘totally untrue’.
And it is humiliating for the Cabinet Office, which stunned Westminster in May by secretly submitting the dossier of new Partygate claims to the police.
A friend of Mr Johnson tonight pointed the finger at Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, a close ally of Rishi Sunak.
‘It shows how malicious it was of the Government to drag those diary entries out and hand them over to the police without asking what they were,’ the source said. ‘It was a very hostile act by Dowden and co.’
Police rejected fresh ‘evidence’ submitted by the Cabinet Office after ruling it did not meet the threshold for investigation. The development is a vindication for the former Prime Minister (pictured), who had always insisted the claims were ‘totally untrue’
Officials highlighted 16 occasions at No 10 and Chequers (pictured) where they believed the attendance list suggested lockdown rules could have been broken.
Mr Dowden is in charge of the Cabinet Office but has always denied involvement in the decision to go to the police, which is said to have been taken by officials.
A Cabinet Office source said tonight it was ‘total nonsense’ to suggest Mr Dowden had been involved in the decision, adding that he was ‘pleased’ Mr Johnson had been cleared.
The source added: ‘Civil servants had contacted the police before ministers were aware of a concern with Boris’s diaries and by that point there was no choice. This was always raking over old coals and they are pleased a line has been drawn under this.’
Government lawyers who were supposed to be helping Mr Johnson prepare for the Covid inquiry went behind his back to raise concerns with the police about entries in his official diary.
Officials highlighted 16 occasions at No 10 and Chequers where they believed the attendance list suggested lockdown rules could have been broken.
Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin then submitted the claims to the Commons privileges committee which was investigating Mr Johnson at the time over allegations he lied to Parliament about lockdown parties in No 10.
Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin then submitted the claims to the Commons privileges committee which was investigating Mr Johnson at the time over allegations he lied to Parliament about lockdown parties in No 10 (pictured: Bernard Jenkin and his wife Anne whose lockdown parties are due to be investigated)
Bernard Jenkins was part of the inquiry into ‘partygate’ but is now facing a probe into his own lockdown activities)
To Mr Johnson’s fury, the referral was made without officials first making contact to discuss the events in question.
He insisted that all of the events had an innocent explanation and were within the Covid rules in place at the time.
Government sources claimed the material was so damning that officials had ‘no choice’ but to report it to the police.
READ MORE: Top Tories call for Bernard Jenkin to resign as the Boris Johnson Partygate accuser faces his OWN police investigation into claims he attended a lockdown-busting party himself
But in a statement at the time, a spokesman for the former PM said he was the victim of a ‘politically motivated stitch-up’. The source added: ‘The events in question were all within the rules either because they were held outdoors or came within another lawful exception.
‘They include regular meetings with civil servants and advisers.It appears some within government have decided to make unfounded suggestions both to the police and to the privileges committee.’
The final decision to hand over the material to the police was taken by Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office. The following month he was handed a knighthood for public service.
The decision to go to the police triggered speculation that Mr Johnson would face further Partygate charges.
But in a joint statement, Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police said they were taking no further action.
The two forces said they had examined the diary entries and ‘sought some further clarification’ before deciding they ‘do not meet the retrospective criteria for reopening the investigation’.
The Met issued 126 fines over Covid-19 rule breaches in Whitehall and Downing Street while Mr Johnson was prime minister. Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak, who was chancellor at the time, paid fixed-penalty notices over a gathering for Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday.
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