LONDON — Boris Johnson has been referred to police for a second time after his own legal team raised concerns that he breached COVID lockdown rules.
The former British prime minister faces an investigation by the Metropolitan and Thames Valley Police following suggestions, first reported by the Times, that fresh potential incidents of rule-breaking were unearthed during preparations for an inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the newspaper, lawyers are said to have become concerned that entries in Johnson’s ministerial diaries appeared to suggest he had hosted visitors at both 10 Downing Street and the prime minister’s grace-and-favor country house, Chequers, at a time when gatherings were illegal.
The Cabinet Office said in a statement that the new information was unearthed as part of the “normal disclosure review.” It added: “In line with obligations in the Civil Service Code, this material has been passed to the relevant authorities and it is now a matter for them.”
Scotland Yard confirmed it had received information relating to potential breaches of health protection regulations at Downing Street between June 2020 and May 2021, when the U.K. was at various stages of lockdown; the force did not confirm Johnson’s connection to the case.
Thames Valley Police, which covers Chequers, told the Times it had received a similar report relating to the same period.
Johnson’s spokesperson insisted he had done nothing wrong, adding: “Some abbreviated entries in Mr. Johnson’s official diary were queried by Cabinet Office during preparation for the COVID inquiry. Following an examination of the entries, Mr. Johnson’s lawyers wrote to the Cabinet Office and privileges committee explaining that the events were lawful and were not breaches of any COVID regulations.”
Johnson was given a fixed penalty notice and fined £50 last year after being found to have broken lockdown regulations on his birthday at No. 10 — an event dismissed by one ally as being “ambushed by a cake.”
The scandal ultimately contributed to his MPs’ moving against him, leading to his resignation last July.
Johnson remains subject to a parliamentary probe over allegations he misled the House of Commons over the various parties held at Downing Street during lockdown.