London police face lawsuit over handling of Boris Johnson’s ‘partygate’ scandal

A London judge was asked to decide if a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Service, for its alleged failure to investigate fully ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the partygate scandal, can go ahead.

The Good Law Project, a public interest group, asked a London court to decide whether Johnson’s attendance at Downing Street parties at the height of pandemic lockdown restrictions should have been properly looked at by the UK’s biggest police force. Should they win, the Met could be forced to reopen the investigation that played some part in the collapse in public trust of Johnson, and ultimately his resignation.

“The failure to serve fixed penalty notices on Mr. Johnson and to close the investigation known as Operation Hillman as of May 2022 was despite evidence presented in a civil servant’s report that he had attended and participated in the three gatherings,” Danny Friedman, a lawyer for the group, said at a London court hearing on Wednesday. Judges will decide whether a full judicial review can proceed later this year.

Johnson, and his the government, have been hit by multiple lawsuits from the Good Law Project over his administration’s response and handling of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, London’s biggest police force has been beset by a string of damaging scandals that have shaken public trust in the service.

The Met “advances no substantive defense to the claim and do not explain why Johnson’s conduct at the gatherings was deemed lawful or why questionnaires were not sent to him in relation to some of the gatherings,” lawyers for the group said.

Lawyers for the police force called the claim “tenuous” and asked the court to dismiss it, according to documents prepared for the hearing.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson and Johnson’s office did not respond to a request for a comment.

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