No10 officers feared 'snooping' accusations if they acted on partygate, ex-top cop says

25 January 2022, 14:43

By Seán Hickey

The former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Met suggests that No.10 police didn't investigate partygate as it would be seen as 'snooping' on their principals.

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Boris Johnson welcomed a Met police investigation into alleged rule-breaking parties at Downing Street, in the wake of revelations that the PM hosted a birthday party during the first lockdown.

Shelagh Fogarty spoke to Stephen Roberts, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police to understand what could emerge from the investigation. She asked about the duty of Downing Street officers.

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If Downing Street officers "saw parties happening and said nothing and did nothing, would that be a relevant thing to bring forward for full investigation?" She wondered. Mr Roberts confirmed that it would.

"Would their failure to do so at the time, if that were the case...be a disciplinary matter within the police?"

Read more: 'Why was his designer there?' Nick Ferrari grills minister over PM's birthday bash

"It's a very difficult issue, this one." The former Met chief began.

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"The role of the police officers both uniformed and plain-clothed around Downing Street is to protect both the premises and more importantly the people within those premises, the Prime Minister above all."

"If you're in protection are you not meant to pay attention to anything other than the protection of that person?" Shelagh pressed. "It's always a judgement call at the time" Mr Roberts replied.

Read more: James O'Brien's ferocious assessment of Downing Street party saga

He went on to say that if a protection officer or the officers on the door of Downing Street "are seen to be snooping on their principals, then those principals will have less trust in them...to do their primary role."

Shelagh contested his comments: "It's not quite snooping to respond to what's happening around you."

"It may be seen the same as snooping by the principals who are there to be protected" he clarified. "Police officers will as always have discretion about how they deal with minor breaches of the law."

The former Met chief concluded by telling Shelagh it's "always going to be a judgement call and it's never going to be an easy judgement call, I'm afraid."

Sue Gray's investigation into Downing Street parties will not be published in full until the Met's investigation comes to an end.

The Civil Servant was set to publish her findings this week before Dame Cressida declared the Met's intention to launch investigations.

Speaking to the House of Commons the Prime Minister said: "So I welcome the Met's decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters."

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