New pictures of Partygate could be published within days according to ex-Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings. The former senior aide says the images will show Boris Johnson “obviously lied to the Commons and possibly to the cops”, reports the Daily Mirror.
It is unclear where Mr Cummings believes the pictures will come from. However he appeared to suggest they may emerge from unhappy civil servants who were fined over lockdown breaches.
It was also possible they may feature in the long-awaited Partygate report. That document, following an inquiry conducted by senior civil servant Sue Gray, is expected to be published this week.
More than 300 pictures were given to police by Ms Gray as a result of her probe. It is unknown if any of these will appear in the report which is thought to be being published on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Mr Cummings had been a fierce critic of the Prime Minister since he left his post last year. He referred to photographic evidence held by officials, when he said: “One of the consequences is that I expect photos of the PM will emerge very quickly, within the next 24-48 hours.
“Any reasonable person looking at some of these photos will only be able to conclude that the PM obviously lied to the Commons, and possibly to the cops, and there is no reasonable story for how others were fined for event X but not him.”
The former Vote Leave chief also criticised the Met Police for failing to investigate the PM for every event he attended – when others at them received fines. The Mirror revealed last week that Scotland Yard only investigated Mr Johnson for six of the rules-busting gatherings he was at – but it was unclear why.
In his latest blog, Mr Cummings said: “How has he not been fined more? It’s not because the PM’s presence is in doubt: multiple officials have told the cops he was at X or Y event that the cops have defined ‘unlawful’ and given the cops photos, so the cops know he was there. Part of the reason is that for some events the police simply have not investigated, haven’t asked him about X or Y.”
The bitter former aide also claimed No 10 was in deep chaos with the PM undermining his chief of staff Steve Barclay, top officials briefing against one another and the political team “drowning their sorrows” in the pub. It comes after a briefing war erupted over the weekend with conflicting reports of who organised a meeting between Sue Gray and Boris Johnson.
The pair are understood to have met at least once over an update on the report’s progress while it was being drafted, but a Whitehall source said that its contents were not discussed. Downing Street insisted the talks were not initiated by the PM but Ms Gray’s team said the idea originated from No10.
Treasury minister Simon Clarke insisted the integrity of the Cabinet Office inquiry into the Partygate scandal had not been damaged by the meeting. He stuck to No10’s position, telling Sky News: “My understanding is that the meeting was instigated by Ms Gray.
“There are lots of practical questions here which need to be bottomed out in terms of, for example, who can be named in this report and the extent to which photographic evidence can be included.”
Downing Street insiders suggested the PM was “quite happy” for images to be published to dispel the public belief that Downing Street was “like Ibiza on a Saturday night”.
The Liberal Democrats are launching a Commons bid to force the Government to publish minutes from the meeting and who arranged it. It’s chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “The public would be rightly angry if it turns out Boris Johnson put pressure on Sue Gray to water down her report into illegal Downing Street parties.
“A lack of transparency at this pivotal moment risks undermining the entire inquiry. We deserve to know whether this meeting really was an attempt to turn the report into a Downing Street stitch-up.”
Meanwhile, Tory MP Laura Farris, who represents a ‘blue wall’ seat where voters are deeply critical of the PM’s probity, suggested she would quit as a junior aide at the Foreign Office so she could remain on the Commons committee due to investigate whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament.
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