The Metropolitan police is facing legal action over the way it handled allegations of the prime minister breaking lockdown rules by attending parties in Downing Street, the Guardian has learned.
The former Met police chief Brian Paddick is part of a group arguing the Met blundered and acted “irrationally” in its investigation.
Johnson was fined for one event but not for others, despite claims he was an active participant in these gatherings – with one photo showing his attendance.
In a letter ahead of expected legal action, lawyers for Paddick say they wish to judicially review the “apparent failure of the Metropolitan police service to adequately investigate or investigate at all the prime minister Boris Johnson’s participation in three unlawful gatherings held at 10 Downing Street …”
They are three leaving dos, including one on 13 November 2020 at which the PM is pictured with others, glass in hand in an apparent toast, with bottles of alcohol on a table.
The other two events the Met is being asked to justify in the legal letter were leaving events on 17 December 2020, and also 14 January 2021.
The Met is being sent a letter before action, and will be given 14 days to reply.
The letter say Johnson is believed not even to have been sent a questionnaire by police, asking for him to account for his presence at the three leaving dos cited in the letter.
The letter says: “We do not understand the decision to investigate some attendees but not the prime minister.”
It adds: “The MPS can not reasonably have reached any conclusion as to reasonable excuse without first having investigated the prime minister’s conduct by way of a questionnaire or interview.”
Fines have been issued to those who attended events where Johnson was present but not fined himself.
Among the legal team behind the judicial review are Adam Wagner, seen as a leading authority on Covid laws, and the Good Law Project.
The legal letter asks the Met to either reopen its investigation, or justify in writing its decision-making, or face court action.
Johnson was fined for one event, a birthday party held for him in Downing Street in June 2020, as was his wife, Carrie Johnson, and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
The legal action signals a new chapter of pain for the Met over Partygate, which the force would have hoped to put behind it when it completed its investigation last week.
Paddick, now a Liberal Democrat peer, told the Guardian: “If the Met is to avoid further deterioration in public trust and confidence, they must explain why they failed to even question the prime minister about his attendance at these events. We are simply asking the Met to either explain or investigate further, and if necessary we will ask the courts to force the Met to do so.”
The Met has so far refused to offer any further explanation, with the credibility of its decision-making rocked when photos emerged on Monday of Johnson at a party.
In all, the Met issued 126 fines. Some junior staff say the Met fined them but let their seniors off.
On Thursday, the acting Met commissioner, Sir Stephen House, is due to appear before the policing and crime committee of the London assembly, where he may be asked about the Met investigation into Downing Street law-breaking, known as Operation Hillman.