Tag Archives: Metropolitan

50 more fines for Downing Street partying reveal the scale of the lawbreaking

Christmas party: the fines announced today were for an event Boris Johnson was said not to have attended. Here’s an image of him from one he did.

The Metropolitan Police have fined 50 Downing Street employees for taking part in an illegal Christmas party there in 2020.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is not among those being fined this time, as it is understood he did not attend – but the new fines illustrate the scale of lawbreaking in Whitehall while the rest of us were being forced to observe strict social distancing rules that kept us from our loved ones while they were dying – and afterwards.

It is now clear that staff at Downing Street and Whitehall enjoyed a culture of lawbreaking that lasted for months on end – possibly more than a year – under the noses of Boris Johnson and his senior government ministers.

Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have already been served with fines, and with the prime minister believed to have attended at least three of the 12 gatherings under Met Police investigation. Also fined was Johnson’s wife Carrie, who had no reason to be anywhere near Downing Street employees under any circumstances at the time.

The announcement of the new fines must be like a noose tightening around Johnson’s throat; the police investigation is not close to being over – and a second, more detailed report from Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray, set to follow once the last fine has been served, threatens to be more damning than all of the penalty notices put together.

Johnson says he will have “plenty to say” about the scale of the lawbreaking “when the thing’s finished”.

But why won’t he say anything about it now?

He knows what happened and whether he took part in it.

But he has refused to provide any information himself, leaving it to investigators to discover the damning evidence – such as that which led to his first fine. If you are a UK citizen, your prime minister is a criminal.

And the decision to force others to drag out the incriminating information simply makes him look worse. We know he is a habitual liar so his determination to hide the facts should be no surprise – but if he is found to have lied to Parliament, he will have broken the Ministerial Code, and the refusal to apologise for doing so, plus the failure to admit his crimes, will make any such offence worse.

So it seems to This Writer that, at the end of the day, Boris Johnson won’t need to say “plenty”. His only option will be summed up in two words: “I resign.”

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Police who stop-searched UK athletes could lose their jobs

Remember when Metropolitan Police officers dragged UK sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner out of their car and away from their three-month-old child on false claims that they could smell cannabis?

Nearly two years after the incident, five officers involved will face gross misconduct charges that could lead to them being sacked. Another officer will face a charge of misconduct.

It is understood that a disciplinary panel will also consider whether racial discrimination played any part in the actions of some of the officers, who deny wrongdoing and insist they will contest the charges.

This Site reported on the incident when it happened.

Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos were stopped at 1.20pm on July 4, 2020 in Maida Vale, north-west London, by officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group. He was driving and she was in the back with their child.

Reports of a police statement at the time claimed,

The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.

The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.

It was also alleged that the officers justified their search by claiming they could smell cannabis.

Both athletes are trained by the former Olympic champion Linford Christie, who accused police of institutional racism, and they also said they believed racism played a part in the incident.

In a statement, Christie asked,

“Can Cressida Dick [then Met Police Commissioner, who spoke in support of her officers’ behaviour] or anyone please explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over?

“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?

“This is not the first time this has happened (second time in two months) and I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any long #BLM #MetPoliceRacist.”

A few days later, the Met referred the incident to the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which has taken two years to deliver its findings.

This Writer’s personal opinion is that I would want access to every piece of evidence used in the case, when the disciplinary panel comes to hear it, because I simply don’t trust the institutions involved to make a correct decision without public supervision.

I have grave doubts about the reasons the Met gave to justify chasing, stopping and searching these athletes’ car, and there is also the matter of the distress caused to them as they were separated from their very young child.

The IOPC’s recommendation is a step in the right direction. But will it be a case of one step forward, two steps back?

Source: Police who handcuffed Bianca Williams to face gross misconduct charge | UK news | The Guardian

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Is Sue Gray’s Covid parties review so damning it could finish Boris Johnson as PM?

Boris Johnson and Cressida Dick: her decision to investigate the so-called Partygate scandal bought him a three-month reprieve from the “excoriating” contents of Sue Gray’s report – but now seems likely to add fuel to incendiary criticisms it contains.

This casts the Metropolitan Police’s decision to investigate the alleged lockdown-busting Downing Street parties – after initially refusing – in a very poor light indeed.

The Met, under then-Commissioner Cressida Dick, decided to launch an investigation after all, shortly before Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray was due to publish her review into the events underlying the so-called Partygate scandal.

Ms Gray had been expected to publish her report around January 24 this year, but it didn’t appear on that day – and on the very next day, Dick announced that the Met was launching an investigation of its own.

This Writer said at the time that the announcement seemed an obvious delaying tactic and today’s (April 25) revelation suggests that I was right.

Ms Gray was forced to amend her report because the plods said they didn’t want it to contain any information that could prejudice their inquiries.

And now we hear claims that the full report is so “excoriating” of Johnson that it could end his term as prime minister:

The Times, citing an official it described as being familiar with the contents of the complete report, said Ms Gray’s full findings were even more personally critical of the Prime Minister and could end his premiership.

According to the paper, the official said: “Sue’s report is excoriating. It will make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister. There’s an immense amount of pressure on her – her report could be enough to end him.” No 10 declined to comment.

Ironically, it seems the Met’s delaying tactic is likely to have made matters worse for Johnson in the long term.

Already he has received one fixed-term penalty – a fine – for attending a party held to celebrate his own birthday in 2020. It seems likely he will receive another for a “bring your own booze” event in the garden of 10 Downing Street on May 20 that year.

And there are four other events that he allegedly attended being investigated by the police as well.

Ms Gray can’t release her full report until after the police investigation has ended but, by then, any criticism of Johnson may be superceded by the consequences of the fines.

According to the i newspaper, Tory rebels are organising to oust him if their party fares poorly in next month’s local elections – or if he receives further fines.

The three-month reprieve Johnson has enjoyed as a result of the police investigation has merely allowed them to organise themselves, it seems.

The paper says Johnson’s critics are currently “holding back” to await the local election results or further fines – but have prepared ‘no confidence’ letters to be submitted en masse to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs should the party take a battering at the polls on May 5.

It seems Johnson’s chickens are coming home to roost and any plan to fend off his critics with an early general election is likely to fail. How will he try to save his bacon now?

Source: Sue Gray’s Covid parties review could spell ‘end’ of Boris Johnson premiership, says report

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Cressida Dick: ‘I did not voluntarily resign’ – but she had to go, didn’t she?

Cressida Dick: she didn’t want to go – but with scandals breaking around her, how could she have stayed?

The departing Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan on her last day in the job, saying, “I did not voluntarily resign.

But Dame Cressida Dick had to go, didn’t she? Multiple scandals involving officers of that service showed that she was not capable of maintaining order and a standard of behaviour that is expected.

As this LondonWorld article states,

Dame Cressida has spent 40 years in London’s main police force – including five years as its top officer – but quit on February 11 after mounting scandals.

She resigned after Mr Khan expressed his displeasure with her response to widespread public outrage over offensive messages exchanged by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station.

It was one of a string of controversies that plagued her during her time in the role, alongside the murder of Sarah Everard by then-serving police officer Wayne Couzens and the jailing of two Pcs who took pictures of the bodies of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

There was also criticism of how the force handled the partygate scandal and the Daniel Morgan report which blasted the Met’s failure to tackle corruption.

But during a visit to the Metropolitan Police Specialist Training Centre in Gravesend, Kent, Dick hit out against London Mayor Sadiq Khan:

“The mayor of London is a democratically elected person. He has a job to do, he has certain responsibilities in relation to the Metropolitan Police Service.

“He caused me to say that I would step aside, I did not voluntarily resign. What happened in the run-up to that and subsequently in the last few weeks perhaps, I don’t know, will be looked at by Sir Tom Winsor.”

That means there will be an investigation into her tenure by the Chief Inspector of Constabularies.

This Writer is looking forward to seeing what that investigation discovers.

I have heard whispers that there was opposition to Dick among senior officers in the Met, and that these people may have encouraged unacceptable behaviour among their officers in order to discredit the commissioner.

If that were true, it would be a scandal for them to remain in post while she had been forced out.

Whatever the facts of the matter, the Metropolitan Police currently falls far below the standards expected of the people who supposedly protect us from crime. Far too many of its officers have been habitually committing crimes themselves.

But if the service is riddled with corruption, how can it be restored?

Source: Cressida Dick: Met Police chief hits out at Sadiq Khan on last day saying ‘I did not voluntarily resign’ | LondonWorld

Why have junior civil servants been targeted by the first Partygate fines?

Not fined yet: Boris Johnson (right) acts as questionmaster in a quiz at one of the alleged Downing Street parties.

Let’s answer the question in the headline straight away: junior civil servants have been fined because they haven’t challenged the imposition of the penalties by the Metropolitan Police.

It is understood, but hasn’t been confirmed, that the fines relate to a leaving party for a Downing Street advisor, held on June 18, 2020.

Police have issued 20 fines, each worth £50.

According to the BBC,

One … government source said police had targeted “low-hanging fruit”, and another agreed this appeared to be the police’s approach.

Civil servants have not been provided with help for legal costs and are being advised to pay any fines they receive, while senior staff and politicians have paid for private legal advice.

A recipient can contest a fine, in which case the police will review the case to decide whether or not to withdraw the fine or take the matter to court.

And Sky News has said the investigation may have been slowed down by the need to consult the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS):

A CPS lawyer would be needed if the recipient of a fine decided to fight and take the issue to a magistrates’ court.

The CPS can ask the police to do more work, or direct them to collect more evidence until it is satisfied it could prosecute a case.

Sky News understands that the Metropolitan Police did not fully consult the CPS at the start of the investigation.

The CPS could have questions about the unusual questionnaires used to extract more information from those in government.

The implication running through both broadcasters’ interpretations of events is that senior civil servants and Conservative politicians are indeed contesting fines.

The reason for this may be the question of whether a fine represents proof of criminality.

Ministers and senior civil servants – like, for example, Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – are likely to want to do everything they can to avoid an implication that they have committed a criminal act.

With the question undetermined, it seems they are seeking to challenge any fines imposed on them.

But this means that they may face court prosecution and any conviction following such an event would certainly be for a criminal offence.

If this is the route Boris Johnson has chosen, then he is in very serious trouble indeed.

Source: PM not among first fines issued to people in government for breaking lockdown rules

Court challenge win over Sarah Everard vigil raises questions about authorities

Heavy-handed: after the Met Police said it would be illegal to stage a socially-distanced vigil under lockdown conditions, organised by Reclaim These Street, an impromptu event happened instead – leading to heavy criticism of the same force for the brutal way it was seen to put down protesters.

Decisions by the Metropolitan Police that discouraged organisers from holding a vigil for Sarah Everard were against the law, according to High Court judges.

Police statements that Covid-19 regulations at the time meant holding the vigil would be unlawful, and had a “chilling” effect, contributing to the decision to cancel the vigil (an impromptu event was then put down by police with what some have described as brutal force).

None of the force’s decisions was in accordance with the law; evidence showed that the force failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.

That’s a victory for justice. But the High Court had previously refused to declare that any ban on outdoor gatherings under the coronavirus regulations at the time was “subject to the right to protest” – or to declare that an alleged force policy of “prohibiting all protests, irrespective of the specific circumstances” was unlawful.

And Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services concluded the police “acted appropriately” when dealing with the event.

So this raises an obvious question:

Are the High Court and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary fit for purpose if they can’t make a simple ruling in favour of the law?

In a ruling today (March 11), Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate found that the Metropolitan Police breached the rights of Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler to freedom of speech and assembly, and did not assess the potential risk to public health:

Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially-distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens, near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year.

The four women who founded RTS and planned the vigil brought a legal challenge against the force over its handling of the event, which was also intended to be a protest about violence against women.

They withdrew from organising the vigil after being told by the force they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if the event went ahead, and a spontaneous vigil and protest took place instead.

The policing of the spontaneous vigil that took place drew criticism from across the political spectrum after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.

Summarising the decision, Lord Justice Warby said:

“The relevant decisions of the (Met) were to make statements at meetings, in letters, and in a press statement, to the effect that the Covid-19 regulations in force at the time meant that holding the vigil would be unlawful.

“Those statements interfered with the claimants’ rights because each had a ‘chilling effect’ and made at least some causal contribution to the decision to cancel the vigil.

“None of the (force’s) decisions was in accordance with the law; the evidence showed that the (force) failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.”

If Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate could see this evidence and act upon it, there’s no reason other High Court judges could not do the same – and certainly no reason Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – which should specialise in the law as it applies to the police – couldn’t.

Why did they make the wrong call, then?

And what will be done to correct what are clearly faults in the attitude of the people who made the wrong decisions?

It costs a fortune to take a case to the High Court; these organisations have a duty to the public to get their decisions right first time.

Sadly, experience suggests to This Writer that the usual action will be taken: nothing at all.

Source: Sarah Everard vigil organisers win High Court challenge against Met Police – upday News UK

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Dick is out – but she took the easy way to avoid the wrath of Khan

Cressida Dick: #DickOut campaign for her removal followed claims that she had not ended “institutional racism” by the Met Police. But worse allegations have ended her tenure at the top of the UK’s flagship police service.

Cressida Dick has resigned from her role as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

But she took the easy way out. London Mayor Sadiq Khan had challenged her to clean up the police service she headed and instead she took the option where she got to relax with a fat pension.

Khan had reached the limit of his endurance after a series of scandals involving the police service for London.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct had found “disgraceful” misogyny, discrimination and sex harassment among officers at Charing Cross police station.

Previously Dick had been heavily criticised for the conduct of the Sarah Everard case, in which a woman was raped, murdered and her body burned by a Met Police officer.

He wasn’t the only one to (allegedly) victimise women – several other officers have been charged with offences against women since that time.

Dick’s own conduct was referenced in an independent report that accused the force of institutional corruption over the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan, and before she became Commissioner she was in charge of the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

When her fellow Balliol College, Oxford, alumnus Boris Johnson was accused of having taken part in Covid-19 lockdown-busting parties in 2020, the Metropolitan Police unaccountably decided not to investigate the apparent crimes.

Instead, officers waited until Cabinet Office Secretary Sue Gray delivered evidence of the events – including 300 images – before investigating the allegations of crimes behind the doors their colleagues guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year and through which they appear to have watched civil servants carting suitcases – suitcases – full of booze.

Now, with increasingly damning evidence becoming available, Dick has decided to take the option presented to her by Sadiq Khan, and get out while the getting’s good.

And we’re all fine with that – are we?

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Dick put ‘on notice’ – but why because of her officers and not because of herself?

Cressida Dick: she regularly appears in the media, trying to mitigate the shocking offences committed by Metropolitan Police officers – and their commissioner.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has been put “on notice” by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, that she must reverse the culture of racism, homophobia, bullying and misogyny discovered in her service’s ranks since she took over.

Khan is said to have referred to it as “a return to the bad days of the Met of his childhood in the 1970s and 80s”.

Certainly there is reason to find fault with the Met Police under Dick’s direction.

The latest revelations show officers, mainly at Charing Cross, had joked about rape, domestic violence and killing black children.

A report by the Independent Office of Police Conduct stated, “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’.”

Recent history bears this out.

Look at Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and burned the body to evade detection. Did Charing Cross officers make a joke about that? One Met officer certainly did – he shared memes showing a police officer kidnapping a woman, but has been allowed to keep his job.

Three more officers were charged with sex offences in October alone. One – David Carrick – now faces charges relating to 29 offences including many rapes between 2009 and 2020. Francois Olwage faces child sex charges. Adam Zaman has been charged with rape.

And what about the officers assigned to guard the bodies of murdered women, who took photographs of them and shared the images on a WhatsApp group because they thought it was funny? The mother of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry demanded that Dick clear the rot from the Met but that clearly hasn’t happened.

Incidents in which Met officers have stopped and searched people who happen to have been “driving while black” abound.

But Cressida Dick herself is not above suspicion either. Both she and the service she heads were found to have been “institutionally corrupt” in their handling of the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry.

And now it seems she is busily covering up the misdeeds of Boris Johnson in the Partygate scandal. Initially the Met refused to investigate allegations of more than a dozen lockdown-busting Downing Street parties, claiming there was no evidence, even though officers from that service were guarding the doors of Number 10 at the time and it seems unlikely that they could have failed to notice civil servants carrying suitcases full of wine bottles into the building.

After Sue Gray uncovered a huge mass of evidence, Dick stepped in and announced that the Met had decided to investigate after all – and this meant the senior civil servant must edit details relating to the 12 parties under police investigation out of her report.

It seems, even after being labelled “corrupt” in the Morgan report, Dick just can’t stop interfering.

So now Sadiq Khan has put her “on notice”. If she does not clean up her act, and that of her officers, then according to a source close to Khan, “the mayor will have to consider whether she is the right person to lead the change needed at the Met”.

He means he’ll have her removed.

As far as some of us are concerned, such a move can’t come soon enough. He should have done it already.

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Ridicule meets #MetPolice interference in #SueGray’s #Partygate report

Chums: Boris Johnson and Cressida Dick went to the same Oxford college.

Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray is expected to publish her report into alleged lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street early in the week (if not immediately).

But there are fears that important details will be redacted after the Metropolitan Police intervened to say that, as they are now investigating possible crimes, they want information about the most serious allegations to be removed.

(These “most serious allegations” are those that carry penalties equivalent to parking fines, according to the UK’s top lawyers, remember.)

Here’s what the people of the UK think about that:

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#Partygate: There’s no reason for Sue Gray to edit her report – says ex-Met Superintendant

Sue Gray: it seems there is no material reason for her to delay, edit or redact her report, just because the Met Police has asked her to.

Dal Babu ought to know whether a Cabinet Office report will prejudice a Metropolitan Police inquiry – he used to be a superintendant there.

And he’s “confused” about why the Met, under its Commissioner Cressida Dick (who, like Boris Johnson, was formerly a student at Balliol College, Oxford), has asked Sue Gray to edit her Cabinet Office report to avoid prejudicing a Met inquiry.

It beats This Writer, too.

Like most of us, Mr Babu reckons a criminal inquiry should have been launched long before last week, and wonders why the Met only announced that it would carry one out after Sue Gray had done all the hard work and handed over her evidence of potential criminal offences.

After wasting many weeks doing nothing, then taking delivery of the evidence from Ms Gray, the Met then demanded that her report should make “minimal reference” to the Downing Street events it is now investigating.

Mr Babu told ITV News – well, see/hear it for yourself:

The Met’s demand also seems to lack any legal weight, according to some of the most senior lawyers in the UK:

Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions (DPP), said the move seems “disproportionate” in the face of “very powerful” public interest in the report’s swift publication, unless there is “more serious conduct” being investigated.(1)

It turns out he had a lot more to say than that:

Lord Macdonald told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “The risk of the police intervention this morning is that this leaves things hanging in the air for weeks and months, and that seems obviously not to be in the public interest.

“If we’re talking about fixed penalty notices – like parking tickets, essentially – if we’re talking about that kind of resolution, then to take the rather grave step to delay a report that is going to shed public light on the subject matter of what may be a major public scandal, I think that is undesirable and I think it may be a misjudgment.

“If we are simply talking about lockdown breaches and fixed penalty notices, this move by the police this morning seems to be disproportionate.”(2)

Then there’s this:

Nazir Afzal, a former chief Crown prosecutor for the North West, said on Twitter: “This is absolute nonsense from the Met Police.

“A purely factual report by Sue Gray cannot possibly prejudice a police investigation.

“They just have to follow the evidence, of which the report will be a part.”(2)

And this:

The anonymous lawyer and author known as The Secret Barrister then added: “I am a criminal lawyer, and I too must be missing something, because there is no reason I can see as to why an independent police criminal investigation would in any way be influenced by, or would seek to influence, a civil service report.”(2)

In balance, former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent and counter-terrorism national coordinator Nick Aldworth said the report could prejudice the police investigation “by disclosing the evidence that they will gather and thereby giving the potential defendants an opportunity to conceal or alter evidence”.

How can they conceal evidence that has already been handed to the police by Sue Gray? This is about matters for which the punishment is “like parking tickets” remember – not terrorism.

Barrister John Goss added: “If the report contains information which is not known to the suspects/witnesses and which the police want to ask them about to see their response, or to see whether responses of multiple suspects/witnesses are consistent. Not unusual.”(2)

Not necessary, either, on a question of whether a person was at a party or not, for which photographic evidence is believed to exist, and for which the penalty is “like parking tickets”

The BBC is now reporting that Ms Gray isn’t going to wait for the Met to finish whatever it is doing and will deliver her report – which may be edited or redacted – whenever she feels like it.

But to the frustration of millions of people up and down the UK, it seems she doesn’t feel like it yet.

Source: (1) Ex-Metropolitan Police chief ‘confused’ why force wants Sue Gray to omit details from her report | ITV News

(2) ‘Absolute nonsense’: Lawyers question Met’s call to water down report into Downing St parties

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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