London Assembly members urge police to investigate Tory HQ Covid rule breach

Elliot Chappell

London Assembly members have made a cross-party call to the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate an apparent breach of Covid public health restrictions at the Conservative Party headquarters in the run-up to Christmas last year.

Following the emergence of a photo, showing then Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and other Conservative figures crowded together in a festive gathering, leaders of the Labour, Green and Lib Dem groups in the London Assembly have written to the Metropolitan Police Service commissioner.

“Images have been circulating on social media and the press from the reported party at Conservative HQ last December, at a time when London was under Tier 2 Covid-19 restrictions, which prohibited mixing indoors with people from different households,” the trio wrote.

“These latest images and reported regarding the alleged party at Conservative HQ last December seem to indicate a clear breach of the regulations and laws in place at the time and it is essential these alleged breaches and all involved are fully investigated by the Met.”

The Mirror published an incriminating picture late on Tuesday evening, showing 24 people crowded together for a party in the London Conservative headquarters on December 14th 2020, while the capital was under Tier 2 restrictions.

At the time, the public health restrictions meant that people were banned from socialising with anyone they did not live with or who was not in their support bubble in any indoor setting, and the ‘rule of six’ applied outdoors.

Shortly before the picture was taken, then Health Secretary Matt Hancock said London would be moving to Tier 3. The party was organised by Bailey’s campaign and attendees included Bailey, billionaire Conservative donor Nick Candy and a senior figure on Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign.

The Tories have said that “formal disciplinary action” had been taken against four headquarters staff seconded to the campaign. Scotland Yard has until now refused to investigate allegations of Christmas gatherings citing a lack of evidence.

The latest story emerged after two weeks in which the Prime Minister has been repeatedly accused of dishonesty after denying knowledge of parties in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year. Allegations include more than one party and a Christmas quiz that Johnson appears to have hosted.

The allegations against Bailey emerged as the Commons approved new Covid measures to combat the virus over the winter, a vote which saw Johnson suffer the biggest rebellion of his premiership as 100 Tories voted against the government.

Labour voted with the government. “We are not exploiting the divisions in the Conservative Party to inflict defeat on the government for the sake of scoring political points,” Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting told parliament.

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