Bermuda Post

Saturday, May 25, 2024

British Lawmakers Making a Joke of Their Own Laws: Met Police Revives Probe into Conservative Party's Festive Gathering Amid Pandemic

“Jingle and Mingle” Christmas event at Tory HQ and a parliamentary gathering under scrutiny for potential Covid-19 rule violations; Calls to halt Shaun Bailey's peerage.
In what appears to be a case of lawmakers skirting the very laws they uphold, the Metropolitan Police have announced the revival of an investigation into alleged breaches of Covid-19 restrictions at a Conservative Party Christmas gathering, dubbed the “jingle and mingle” event. This development follows the emergence of new video evidence in the Sunday Mirror, capturing the controversial holiday festivity held at the party’s headquarters.

The Met Police are not only zeroing in on the festive gathering but also investigating an event that transpired in Parliament on December 8, 2020. This comes after reports on the political blog, Guido Fawkes, implicated Conservative backbencher Sir Bernard Jenkin.

Sir Bernard, who is part of the Commons Privileges Committee, which released a report criticizing former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, refused to comment on the ongoing investigation. It’s noteworthy that Mr. Johnson had previously leveled accusations of "monstrous hypocrisy" against Sir Bernard in relation to the allegations.

Additionally, Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie issued an apology for her participation in the Christmas event during a time when Covid-19 restrictions were being strictly enforced. Ms. Crosbie confirmed the event took place, but clarified that she had not been involved in sending out invitations.

Previously, the Metropolitan Police investigated the December 2020 gathering at the Conservative Party Headquarters, after a photograph emerged showing former London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, alongside Tory aides, raising glasses beside a buffet, at a time when indoor socializing was prohibited. Initially, in November, the Met concluded no further action against Mr. Bailey or others in the photograph was necessary.

However, the investigation was reopened following the publication of a video by the Sunday Mirror, which had not been provided to officers during the initial probe. The footage shows attendees being invited to a “jingle and mingle” party. Shaun Bailey, who has been nominated for a seat in the House of Lords following Mr. Johnson’s resignation, expressed regret for the event, claiming that it escalated after he left. Mr. Bailey stated that he was “very upset about the video” as he had not seen it before.

The Liberal Democrats have urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to bar Mr. Bailey from taking his seat as a peer while the investigation is ongoing.

Simultaneously, the Met Police and Thames Valley Police announced that no investigations into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations at Downing Street and Chequers, the Prime Minister's country home, between June 2020 and May 2021 will be conducted. They asserted that upon "further clarification" on diary entries, the events did "not meet the retrospective criteria for opening an investigation".

Former Prime Minister Mr. Johnson, who resigned as an MP last month under allegations of misleading Parliament, denied any Covid-19 breaches at the events, claiming the actions of the Cabinet Office were part of a “politically motivated stitch-up”.

As the Met Police investigation gains momentum, questions surrounding the accountability and compliance with Covid-19 restrictions by political leaders are now at the forefront of public discourse and scrutiny.

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