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UK police investigating alleged lockdown parties at Downing Street

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-01-25 18:51
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street 10 in London, Britain on Dec 16, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - British police said Tuesday they are investigating alleged parties held at Downing Street and Whitehall over the past two years during the country's lockdown, citing "deep public concern."

"I can confirm that the Met (Metropolitan Police) is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations," London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.

Dick said the investigation was prompted "firstly of the information provided by the Cabinet Office inquiry team and secondly my officers' own assessment."

"I absolutely understand that there is deep public concern about the allegations that have been in the media in recent weeks. I completely understand that. The vast majority of people have acted responsibly during the pandemic," she said.

Revelations of several rule-busting parties held at Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 have enraged British public, who obediently observed the government-imposed coronavirus restrictions, sometimes even unable to attend funerals of loved ones, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized about two weeks ago for attending a Downing Street garden party on May 20, 2020, during the country's first lockdown. He said he believed it was a work event and stayed for only 25 minutes.

British media ITV reported on Monday that the prime minister had a birthday party on June 19, 2020 at Downing Street with the attendance of up to 30 people, despite the rules forbidding social gatherings indoors at the time.

It's unclear how the Met's investigation will impact on the report, widely expected to be released sometime this week, by Sue Gray, the senior civil servant tasked with investigating these alleged parties at Downing Street.

Johnson, whose premiership hangs in the balance amid growing calls for him to resign, has insisted that everyone should wait until Gray's report is released.

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