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U.K. police investigating parties held during Covid lockdown, piling pressure on Boris Johnson

The British prime minister is under fire after media reports on alleged events at his official Downing Street residence and office while coronavirus restrictions were in place.
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LONDON — London police said Tuesday they were investigating Downing Street parties during Covid-19 lockdown, putting further pressure on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick revealed an investigation was underway in a statement before the London Assembly. Dick said that Scotland Yard is now investigating “a number of events” at Downing Street, Johnson's home and office.

Johnson’s Conservative government has been under fire for allegedly holding events during months in which the nation was under lockdown because of Covid-19.

“The fact that we are now investigating does not, of course, mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved,’’ Dick said. “We will not be giving a running commentary on our current investigations.”

It wasn’t clear which events the police were investigating.

New allegations emerged late on Monday from ITV News that Johnson attended a surprise birthday party in Downing Street when social gatherings indoors were banned.

His office disputed the claim it was a party, saying that: “A group of staff working in No. 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday.

“He was there for less than 10 minutes.”

That added to a long list of alleged lockdown breaches in Downing Street, including one ‘bring your own booze’ party, which Johnson has said he attended thinking it was a work event.

Protest against British PM Johnson in London
People protest against Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street in London after weeks of media reports about gatherings held during Covid-19 lockdowns. Anadolu Agency / via Getty Images

The police investigation could force a delay to the internal inquiry commissioned by Johnson and carried out by senior official Sue Gray, who was expected to report her findings later this week in what was seen as a key moment for Johnson’s future as prime minister.

The “partygate” allegations have infuriated many in Britain, who were barred from meeting with friends and family for months in 2020 and 2021 to curb the spread of Covid-19.