British PM Boris Johnson is expected to be among more than 50 people quizzed by police over lockdown parties at Downing Street – after a damning new photo emerged.
Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie is also expected to be one of those emailed to explain their involvement in the illegal celebrations, as police consider widening their investigation.
The new photograph, published in Britain’s Mirror newspaper, show Mr Johnson standing near two members of staff, one of whom is wearing tinsel around his neck, next to an open bottle of champagne.
“The [Met] previously assessed this event and determined that on the basis of the evidence available at that time, it did not meet the threshold for criminal investigation,” Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Thursday (Australian time)
“That assessment is now being reviewed.”
They said officers would start contacting people from the end of this week. Those emailed will be asked to complete a document with formal legal status on the events that have left Mr Johnson facing the gravest crisis of his premiership.
Police are investigating 12 gatherings held at Mr Johnson’s office and residence after an internal inquiry found his staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties in Downing Street, with the British leader attending some of the events himself.
The internal inquiry found evidence of 16 parties or gatherings. The police operation, called Operation Hillman, is examining 12 of them, held on eight dates throughout the pandemic.
At the time of the office celebrations, many people in England could not attend funerals or say farewell to loved ones dying in hospital due to strict COVID-19 lockdown rules, and the revelations have sparked widespread anger.
Some politicians in Mr Johnson’ Conservative Party have joined the opposition in calling for him to quit.
He has apologised and promised to change the culture at the top of government after the internal inquiry found a “serious lack of leadership”.
After five aides quit, Mr Johnson has also appointed new staff to senior roles.
The revelations around Mr Johnson have raised questions about his judgement after he originally he said there were no parties at Downing Street during the strict lockdowns.
The full internal report by senior official Sue Gray will be published at a later date.
Detectives investigating the parties are examining more than 500 documents and 300 images gathered as part of Ms Gray’s inquiry. The Met said it would request further information from the Cabinet Office.