Johnson still braced for Gray report as police get involved
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The prime minister said he welcomed Scotland Yard’s investigation and hoped officers would “help to draw a line under matters” after his leadership was plunged into deeper jeopardy by the development yesterday.
Downing Street signalled he is willing to speak to the officers investigating alleged breaches of coronavirus rules over the past two years, but said Mr Johnson believes he has not broken the law.
Uncertainty was cast over the publication of Ms Gray’s inquiry into claims of lockdown breaches, but it was understood her report could still be published in the coming days as her team hold discussions with police.
A No 10 source said they were yet to be told when Mr Johnson would receive the report, amid suggestions it could come as soon as last night, in advance of its wider publication.
Downing Street initially suggested that elements of the long-awaited Cabinet Office inquiry that touch on potentially criminal acts may be paused now police are involved.
But after it emerged Scotland Yard had not objected to any publication, No 10 said it was not trying to block the report and said Ms Gray’s team were in talks over “what may or may not be published”.
Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said that officers are investigating a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall, after being passed information from the Gray inquiry.
Mr Johnson told the Commons that he welcomes the Met investigation “because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters”.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said that “anyone asked to will co-operate fully” when asked if Mr Johnson is willing to be interviewed by officers.
Pressed on whether the prime minister thinks he has not broken the law, the spokesman said: “I need to be cautious about what I say but I think that’s fair to say that he does not.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Gray report must be published “in full” so there is no “cover-up”.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman initially said the inquiry “won’t publish anything that relates to the work of the police”, suggesting only elements that do not relate to possible criminal acts may be released.
But the PA news agency understood Scotland Yard had not objected to the publication of any part of the Gray report.
Sources close to the investigation suggested that Ms Gray was considering her options and was concerned about publishing a report which was shorn of some of its key findings.
And they said that while the format of the publication was still unknown the report could still come this week.
Allegations of lockdown-busting gatherings at Downing Street have emerged at a steady pace in recent weeks and have now totalled at least 19 separate events.
The latest emerged on Monday when Downing Street was forced to admit Mr Johnson had a birthday celebration inside No 10 during the first lockdown.