In the latest twist in the alleged Christmas party saga, the Metropolitan Police has now referred itself to its own watchdog over a complaint about how they handled the matter.

On 18 December last year, a Christmas party allegedly took place at Number 10 Downing Street while London was under Tier 3 restrictions to combat the spread of Covid.

Writing to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb complained there was a “refusal” to investigate the alleged event, and said the police’s refusal to look into this was “conflict of interest and a potential cover up” due to the “extensive police presence at 10 Downing Street.”

“I believe that there is a case to answer for the police aiding and abetting a criminal offence, or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of Government politicians and their staff,” The Green Party politician added in her letter.

The Metropolitan Police has now replied to confirm her complaint has been split into two parts.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O’Sullivan, directorate of professional standards, told Baroness Jones in a letter: “I have referred your complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct given that you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS police officers.

“The IOPC will now make a determination as to whether the complaint needs to be investigated and if so, how.”

An IOPC spokesperson told the PA news agency: “We can confirm that, on Friday December 17, we received a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service of a complaint about an alleged party at Downing Street in December 2020.

“We are assessing it to determine what, if any, further action may be required from us.”

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Meanwhile, Baroness Jones’s concern that Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has “refused to investigate allegations of an unlawful gathering on December 18 2020, is the second part of the complaint, a Met inspector said.

“The Metropolitan Police Service is not the appropriate authority to handle complaints about the commissioner and, as such, this has been referred to MOPAC (Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime).”

This is the office that sets the direction and budget for the Met.

As instances of Covid rule-breaking are typically investigated by the police, there was public outcry over the fact this particular allegation wasn’t going to be probed. Earlier this month, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab bizarrely claimed: “The police don’t normally look back and investigate things that have taken place a year ago.”

Of course, this remark was duly called out online.

Just a day after Baroness Jones lodged her complaint, footage then emerged of the now-former press secretary Allegra Stratton at a mock press conference from last December where she cracked jokes with aides who questioned her over the alleged party. Stratton soon resigned from her position amid the backlash.

Despite the Met Police reviewing this footage from ITV and receiving “a significant amount of correspondence relating to allegations reported in the media” about the alleged Downing Street party, a Met spokesperson said at the time: “The correspondence and footage does not provide evidence of a breach of the Health Protection Regulations, but restates allegations made in the media.

“Based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations, the Met will not commence an investigation at this time.”

So, as the news broke about the Met Police referring themselves to their own watchdog, people couldn’t help but point out how meta the whole thing is, and adding this palaver could have been avoided if the police just investigated the claims in the first place.

And so the alleged Downing Street Christmas party saga continues...

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