Police want to interview two people over Shaun Bailey’s Tory HQ ‘lockdown party’

·4-min read
Shaun Bailey was the Tory candidate for London mayor (PA )
Shaun Bailey was the Tory candidate for London mayor (PA )

The Metropolitan Police said it will be contacting with two people who attended a party organised by Shaun Bailey’s London mayoral campaign at the Conservative Party HQ in relation to alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations.

The gathering on December 14, 2020, included food and drink while revellers were encouraged to wear hats.

Mr Bailey, who was in the last London mayoral race, has apologised “unreservedly” for the event in Matthew Parker Street, Westminster, and quit his role chairing the London Assembly’s police and crime committee after pictures of the event were published in the Daily Mirror.

The newspaper carried a photograph showing Mr Bailey – who challenged Sadiq Khan in the capital’s mayoral race – with more than 20 other people wearing party hats or holding drinks.

Next to the group was a table laid with buffet food.

In a tweet thread, Mr Bailey said: “I want to apologise unreservedly for attending a gathering held by some of my staff in my campaign office last December.

“I gave a speech to my team to thank them for their efforts, before leaving shortly afterwards.

“It was a serious error of judgement at a time when Londoners were making immense sacrifices to keep us all safe and I regret it wholeheartedly.”

The Tories previously admitted the party had taken place on December 14, when London was in Tier 2 restrictions and said that staff had been disciplined.

The rules meant that no mixing was allowed indoors apart from with an individual’s household or bubble.

Up to six people could meet outside in private gardens or public parks.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Met police said: “The Met is aware of a gathering at an address in Matthew Parker Street, SW1 on 14 December 2020.

“Officers will be making contact with two people who attended in relation to alleged breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations.

“Throughout the pandemic the Met has followed the national 4 Es approach of enforcing the Coronavirus Regulations. Where live ongoing breaches of the restrictions were identified, officers engaged with those present, explained the current restrictions, encouraged people to adhere to them, and only as a last resort moved to enforcement.

“In line with the Met’s policy, officers do not normally investigate breaches of Coronavirus Regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place. However, if significant evidence suggesting a breach of the regulations becomes available, officers may review and consider it.”

The Greater London Authority Conservatives confirmed on Tuesday that Mr Bailey had stepped back from chairing the London Assembly’s police and crime committee.

Meanwhile, reports emerged on Thursday evening that Boris Johnson attended a party with staff in the Downing Street garden during the first national lockdown in May last year.

The Guardian and The Independent reported that the Prime Minister was present for 15 minutes at the gathering following a Covid press conference on May 15 2020.

In response to the latest claims , Downing Street said Mr Johnson "briefly" met then health secretary Matt Hancock and his team in the garden, which was "regularly" used for work meetings during the summer months.

According to the Guardian and Independent's sources, around 20 staff drank wine and spirits and ate pizza following the press conference at which Mr Hancock had told the British public to stay at home "as much as is possible" and stressed the rules in force meant "you can meet one other person from outside your household in an outdoor, public place" as long as you kept two metres apart.

The Prime Minister is alleged to have told one aide that they deserved a drink for "beating back" coronavirus.

Some aides reportedly carried on drinking into the evening, although there was no suggestion Mr Johnson or Mr Hancock had any alcohol or stayed late.

A No 10 spokesman said: "In the summer months Downing Street staff regularly use the garden for some meetings.

"On May 15 2020 the Prime Minister held a series of meetings throughout the afternoon, including briefly with the then health and care secretary and his team in the garden following a press conference.

"The Prime Minister went to his residence shortly after 7pm.

"A small number of staff required to be in work remained in the Downing Street garden for part of the afternoon and evening."

Hannah Brady, a spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice whose father died from the virus the day after the alleged event, said the reports made her sick.

She said that she met the PM some months later, when she showed him a photo of her father in hospital, taken on the day of the reported gathering.

"The Prime Minister looked me in the eye and told me he'd 'done everything he could' to protect my Dad. It's disgusting," she said.

Labour's Fleur Anderson, the shadow paymaster general, said: "It seems that from the very beginning of this awful pandemic the Prime Minister was setting a culture of disregarding the laws he was applying to the rest of us.”

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