A legal challenge against the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into Boris Johnson’s attendance at lockdown parties could be given permission to proceed in a High Court hearing tomorrow (Wednesday 22nd February). The action is being brought by Good Law Project and a former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Paddick.
Boris Johnson was issued with a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), after the Met Police’s probe concluded that he had unlawfully attended a birthday party thrown in his honour at Downing Street during the first lockdown.
But this case focuses on the Met Police’s failure to even send questionnaires – their primary method of investigating Partygate events – to former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, regarding two other lockdown gatherings that he attended in November and December 2020. A number of civil servants and officials who took part in these events were sent questionnaires and ultimately fined.
In pre-action correspondence, the Met failed to explain why Mr Johnson was not sent the questionnaires, or how they concluded that his attendance – unlike that of other attendees – was lawful.
The High Court has ordered a permission hearing to determine if a judicial review into the police investigation can go ahead. A ruling could be made on the same day.
This is the second time that Good Law Project has taken legal action against the Metropolitan Police over Partygate. In January 2021, the Met did a u-turn on its initial decision not to investigate the parties held in No 10 Downing Street and Whitehall, after Good Law Project issued legal proceedings.
Jo Maugham, Director of Good Law Project, said, “We can’t understand – and the Met won’t disclose – how Boris Johnson dodged fines for going to parties that junior civil servants were fined for attending. But what it looks like is special treatment for the powerful.
“I don’t care about Johnson. And nor do I care about £100 fines. What I do care about is the rule of law. It must apply without fear or favour – or everything will fall into the sea.”
Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Paddick, said, “My sole motivation is to ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law as a result of the police carrying out their duty without fear or favour. Many fined for breaching lockdown rules will find this difficult to believe without further explanation from the Metropolitan Police.”