Police reviewing decision not to probe No10 quiz after Boris Johnson bubbly pic emerges


Boris Johnson has been plunged into a fresh partygate crisis as Scotland Yard said cops will review the decision not to probe the Downing Street Christmas quiz party.

It comes after rattled Boris Johnson was confronted at PMQs today over a fresh Partygate photo as MPs renewed furious calls for him to quit.

The Mirror revealed an image of the Prime Minister flanked by three members of staff, one wearing tinsel and another a Santa hat, and an open bottle of bubbly at a “virtual” Christmas quiz on December 15, 2020.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “The MPS previously assessed this event and determined that on the basis of the evidence available at that time, it did not meet the threshold for criminal investigation.

“That assessment is now being reviewed.”

The quiz was considered by the Met Police, but is not one of the 12 parties in Downing Street and Whitehall that the force is investigating.

After we revealed the new photo, a prominent Covid laws expert said Scotland Yard should now add it to the formal investigation.

Barrister Adam Wagner told The Mirror: “The previous photograph of the Prime Minister showed what could have been a meeting briefly interrupted by a Zoom call.

“However, the new photograph shows four people with alcohol and food, as well as a Christmas hat and tinsel, which suggests a Christmas party.

“This was held at a time when indoor social gatherings of two or more people were banned and the Government had told people they “must” not have a Christmas party.”

Boris Johnson is hoping his “defensive” mini-reshuffle to promote loyalists – and the promise of a bigger reshuffle in early summer – will be enough to keep mutinous Tory MPs at bay.

According to The Times, the PM’s allies have claimed he will not resign – even if he is fined by the Metropolitan Police for breaching Covid rules.

But eagle-eyed Labour MP Fabian Hamilton spotted our scoop – and told the PM: “At the height of the lockdown restrictions in 2020, my constituent, who has worked for the NHS for over 30 years, was diagnosed with a tumour on her spine.

“While she was in hospital undergoing painful surgery, her family obeyed the rules and did not visit her. In the last few minutes, a photo has emerged of the Prime Minister in Downing Street, on 15 December 2020, surrounded by alcohol, food and people wearing tinsel. It looks a lot like one of the Christmas parties that he told us never happened.

“For the sake of my constituent and the sacrifices she made, will the Prime Minister be referring that party to the police, as it is not one of those already being investigated?”

The PM hit back, saying: “He is completely in error.”

But incredulous Labour MP Gerald Jones said: “The photograph referred to is all over social media; everybody can see the photo; the Prime Minister is in the photo.

“Can I ask him again, will he refer the matter to the police, because it is not one of the parties that are already being investigated by the Metropolitan police?”

Boris Johnson snapped: “That is precisely the point – it already has been. That event already has been submitted for investigation.”

No10 later indicated the PM was saying the event itself had already been considered by Scotland Yard.

However, the Met decided not to investigate it further. And the PM’s Press Secretary could not say whether the newly-revealed photo had been sent to the Met when it made that decision. She said: “I’m not aware of that and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment”.

Of Sue Gray – who is writing a second report on lockdown parties for when the Met finishes its probe – the Press Secretary added: “She has had access to all information that is relevant and required.”

Asked what was happening in the picture, she said: “We’ve talked about this one before, it is a virtual quiz.”

Opposition MPs mounted fresh calls for Boris Johnson to quit.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy tweeted: “Enough. Boris Johnson must go.”

Shadow Mental Health Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan tweeted: How many work meetings have you been to where someone wears tinsel around their neck and there’s open bottles of bubbly on the table?”

Shadow Education Minister Matt Western tweeted: “So he lies. He has lied. He will lie. He would lie. He was lying. You were obeying his rules.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: “So angry to see Boris Johnson there, still taking up space at the Prime Minister’s despatch box at # PMQs, after the parties, double standards, lies and now the failure to withdraw and apologise for the far-right slur he used there last week – how can Tory MPs let this go on?”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford added: “Boris Johnson is staggering from one scandal to the next.

“This latest boozy lockdown party picture in Downing Street is damning and it is crucial that the Metropolitan police look to investigate it.”

The immediate no-confidence threat to Boris Johnson’s leadership appeared to be fading as Tory MPs decided to wait for Sue Gray’s final report, and any action by the Met Police.

But one Tory MP elected in 2019 told the Mirror: “He will be gone this year, it’s just a question of the tipping point.”

With ex-aide Dominic Cummings due to publish a blog on the renovation of the Downing Street flat, the MP warned: “Donations and loans could be the tipping point – it’s not just about wallpaper and cake, this is a matter of integrity.

“The thing about Cummings is that everyone hates him, but he’s also right.”

The Mirror revealed last year that dozens of staff had spent the evening huddling in groups around their office computers rather than dialling in from home.

In one office, the insider said, there were four teams, each made up of six people.

Sources said staff had knocked back fizz, wine and beer – and some stayed in Number 10 socialising and drinking for hours after the quiz finished at 9.30pm.

Team names included “Professor Quiz Whitty”, “Next Slide Please”, “We’ve Been Clear”, “The 6 Masketeers” and “Hands, Face, First Place” – a reference to the slogan introduced to encourage social distancing and mask wearing.

The Mirror also revealed an email showing organisers had planned days in advance for some staff to enjoy the quiz in person, from the office.

A senior official even urged staff, including teams from the PM’s private office, the policy unit and the press office, to leave No 10 through the back door at the end of the night.

Labour MP Lyn Brown said: “Surely surely surely his time is up.”

Labour MP Maria Eagle tweeted: “Now he’s been ambushed by champagne #PartyGate #ResignJohnson #LiarJohnson.”

Campaigning NHS doctor Rachel Clarke added: “Champagne, tinsel, party hats & blatant prime ministerial rule-breaking – as the 2nd wave death toll soared.

“These pictures are actually triggering. On behalf of the dying, the distraught, the bereaved, the traumatised – go, @BorisJohnson. Go.”

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