How Cressida Dicks resignation affects Boris Johnson and partygate police enquiry

Cressida Dick resigns as Met Police Commissioner

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Several weeks ago, the Metropolitan Police Force announced that it would be investigating a number of alleged Downing Street gatherings between 2020 and 2021 which broke Covid rules in place at the time. After Sue Gray’s initial report was published it was then revealed that the force was looking into 12 events. However, after it was announced that Dame Cressida Dick would be stepping down from the Met, could this have implications for the investigation moving forward?

On Thursday, Dame Cressida, who had held the role of Commissioner for four years, announced her resignation from the Metropolitan Police Force.

In a statement she said she had been left “with no choice” but to resign after London Mayor Sadiq Khan made it clear to her he had no confidence in her leadership.

Dame Cressida has been facing calls to step down after the Independent Office for Police Conduct – police watchdog – last week found “disgraceful” misogyny, discrimination and sex harassment among some Met PCs.

The 61-year-old was the first woman to be placed in charge of Britain’s largest police force.

She has agreed with the mayor that she will continue to serve for a short time period to enable an orderly handover.

As part of a statement, issued on her behalf by the Met, Dame Cressida said it had been the “greatest honour and privilege of my life” to serve as Commissioner.

Meanwhile, Mr Khan said that he was “not satisfied” with Dame Cressida’s response to the police watchdog’s report, and that she “will be stepping aside” as a consequence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Dame Cressida “has served her country with great dedication and distinction over many decades”.

Will the ‘partygate’ investigation be affected?

While it is not ideal, Dame Cressida’s resignation is unlikely to affect the Met’s ongoing investigation, dubbed Operation Hillman.

Altogether the force is examining 12 gatherings on eight dates to understand if Covid regulations were broken.

Dame Cressida will not be leaving her position immediately and she is not part of the group leading the investigation.

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Instead, that responsibility falls to detectives from the Met’s Special Enquiries Team, which focuses on sensitive cases and is being overseen by senior management.

Jane Connors, the force’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Lead for Covid enforcement is directing the team involved.

Ms Connors played a key role in the strategic response to the 2017 Westminster terror attack and has previously been in charge of handling Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

Of the 12 gatherings under investigation Mr Johnson is known to have attended at least three. These are as follows:

  • May 20, 2020 in the Downing Street garden
  • June 19, 2020 in the Cabinet Room for the PM’s birthday
  • November 13, 2020 on the departure of a special adviser

How are the Met investigating?

Earlier this week the force said it will begin contacting more than 50 people as part of its enquiry.

Officers had already been handed more than 300 images and 500 plus pages of information from Ms Gray’s own investigation.

In her report, Ms Gray revealed that she had looked into 16 alleged gatherings, with the Met ruling four out of their own investigation.

Could the investigation now take longer to complete?

No official date has been set by the Met for when it will conclude its examinations.

However, Commander Catherine Roper, who is working on the investigation, has said it would last “absolutely not more than a year” and that officers hoped to carry out interviews in the coming few weeks.

Those individuals who are alleged to have been present at events on the eight dates between May 2020 and April 2021 are due to be sent a questionnaire.

Here, they will be asked to provide their accounts of what happened and, according to the Met, “must be answered truthfully”.

Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie are expected to be among the 50 people being emailed.

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