Ex-Met standards boss enrages LBC listeners saying 'no public interest' in No10 Xmas party

9 December 2021, 17:21 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 17:32

By Tim Dodd

Former Met standards boss Stephen Roberts enraged LBC listeners and clashed with Shelagh Fogarty by claiming there was "no public interest" for the Met to probe the alleged Downing Street Christmas parties of 2020.

It comes as Cressida Dick faces mounting pressure over the Met's handling of the No10 Christmas party scandal after an MP told LBC she should have demanded evidence into the allegations from the very beginning.

Shelagh asked Mr Roberts: "If Simon Case finds that 30 people were in one room, from different households... drinking, eating together, not social distancing - I quote Allegra Stratton - and playing games together, whatever that amounted to.... there is the evidence for the Met.

"Then what?"

Read more: Fuming Tory MPs threaten revolt over Covid rules that order WFH but allow Xmas parties

Mr Roberts replied: "I think the position would remain unchanged, though I suspect in that situation, the evidence might be put in front of the Crown Prosecution Service, and they would have to decide first on the adequacy of the evidence, and then whether it was in the public interest [to prosecute].

"I think the answer on that second question would still be, no, it is not in the public interest."

Shelagh challenged Mr Roberts, saying: "I think it is in the public interest, if at that time, in that building where the rules were being thought up - for good reason... If they were having parties while the rest of us were facing [restrictions], surely it's in the public interest for that to be not just revealed, but someone be held accountable for it!"

Read more: Tory Party admits 'gathering' at HQ in December 2020 amid Downing Street Xmas party row

Mr Roberts admitted it was "correct" for staff to be held accountable if there had been Covid-breaching parties, but that criminal law was the "wrong way to hold people to account".

"The political sphere is where this needs to be decided," he said.

Shelagh then asked if that would be the case if there was a sexual assault in Parliament, and Mr Roberts insisted that this was a "slightly separate issue".

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