UK police deny delaying 'partygate' probe into PM

Weeks of so-called "partygate" revelations forced Johnson to order a senior civil servant to look into the claims, and her report was due to be published this week.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to update the nation on the COVID-19 booster vaccine programme in Downing Street in central London on 12 December 2021. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/POOL/AFP

UNITED KINGDOM - London police on Friday denied delaying a long-awaited government report into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street that have put Prime Minister Boris Johnson's future in jeopardy.

Weeks of so-called "partygate" revelations forced Johnson to order a senior civil servant to look into the claims, and her report was due to be published this week.

But the fact-finding investigation has yet to appear, prompting speculation the involvement of police this week could prevent full details emerging.

Johnson's spokesman has said the government wanted to be sure the internal report did not "cut across" the police probe, so as not to prejudice any future legal proceedings.

"We are in no way seeking to block the report," he told reporters.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed in a statement it did not want details emerging that detectives were investigating for potential breaches of coronavirus legislation.

"For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report.

"The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed," it added.

"We have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation."

The "partygate" revelations have seen calls for Johnson to quit, due to widespread public and political anger about the breaking of rules the government itself had set.

The delay of Gray's report has given the embattled prime minister some breathing space, after he promised to address parliament as soon as it was published.

But most MPs are in their home constituencies on Friday and not due to return for parliamentary business until Monday.

Johnson's opponents accuse him of misleading parliament - which under the code for ministers is seen as a resigning matter - by insisting the events were work-related.

He has vowed to "get on with the job" and hopes the report will draw a line under the matter.