Rishi Sunak receives partygate questionnaire from Met Police investigating Boris Johnson’s birthday celebration in Downing Street
- Rishi Sunak confirmed he attended the birthday celebration for Boris Johnson
- Mr Sunak said he was present for a routine meeting to discuss the pandemic
- It has been reported a photo of Mr Johnson next to Mr Sunak was given to police
- Met is investigating 12 alleged gatherings across Whitehall and Downing Street
Rishi Sunak has received a questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police in its investigation into the partygate saga.
The Chancellor previously confirmed he was at one of the events subject to Metropolitan Police inquiries – a birthday celebration held by Downing Street staff and Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie for the Prime Minister on June 19, 2020.
Police officers investigating the scandal were reportedly handed a photo from the event showing Mr Johnson holding a can of beer while standing next to Mr Sunak in the Downing Street Cabinet Room as he toasts towards the camera, according to the Mirror.
Mr Sunak insisted he had been present at the Cabinet Room for a routine meeting to discuss the pandemic situation on the day in question.
It is understood the Chancellor has not yet responded to the questionnaire, but has seven days to return it, as requested by officers to avoid being fined £100.
Rishi Sunak has received a questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police in its investigation into the partygate saga
The Chancellor previously confirmed he was at one of the events subject to Metropolitan Police inquiries – a birthday celebration held by Downing Street staff and Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie for the Prime Minister on June 19, 2020. The Mirror reported police were handed a picture of Mr Johnson holding a beer while next to Mr Sunak (simulated picture)
Mr Sunak’s questionnaire comes nearly two weeks after No 10 confirmed Boris Johnson had returned his own form to the police.
A leak of one of the questionnaires to ITV news raised the prospect he had become the first Prime Minister to be questioned under police caution.
The Met is looking into 12 alleged gatherings held across Whitehall and Downing Street on eight dates during coronavirus restrictions under Operation Hillman.
Earlier this month, Mr Sunak appeared to suggest he was not expecting to receive a form to complete.
Asked on Sky News on February 11 whether he expected to receive a form, he replied: ‘No… well, I don’t know.’
He said at the time he did not believe he had broken any Covid rules.
When previously asked about the allegations, Mr Sunak said he went to the Cabinet Room as he had for ‘100, 200, God knows how many other Covid meetings’.
The Metropolitan Police is understood to have sent questionnaires to 88 people, including Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, about gatherings that may have breached lockdown rules.
Civil servant Sue Gray – whose inquiry into parties found ‘failures of leadership and judgment’ – is also said to have passed 300 photos to police.
Earlier this week, Scotland Yard confirmed a police officer interrupted a Downing Street Christmas party on December 18, 2020, when revellers accidentally set off an alarm.
Deputy Met commissioner Sir Stephen House said detectives investigating the parties are speaking to that officer.
The Metropolitan Police is understood to have sent questionnaires to 88 people, including Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, about gatherings that may have breached lockdown rules
Sir Stephen said: ‘One officer was involved in responding with a civilian custodian, who works for No 10, to a silent alarm we believe had been pressed in error. That officer was spoken to by Sue Gray and will be spoken to by ourselves.’
The revelation led to questions over why the officer did not intervene if they had witnessed a potentially illegal gathering.
But Sir Stephen said officers guarding Downing Street were there to prevent attacks rather than monitor gatherings at No 10.
‘Armed officers do not routinely walk through the Cabinet Office or No 10,’ he added.
Sir Stephen revealed the probe into parties was expected to conclude in weeks rather than months. New questionnaires would be sent out if more suspects emerged.
The questionnaire is a ‘written statement under caution’, Scotland Yard has confirmed, making Mr Johnson the first British Prime Minister to be subjected to this level of police scrutiny.