Dominic Raab has been criticised by Labour after he suggested it would be unusual for the police to investigate crimes that happened last year.
The justice secretary on Sunday said if No.10 staff had held a Christmas party in breach of lockdown rules in 2020 it would have been “wrong”.
But in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he added that the police “don’t normally look back and investigate things that have taken place a year ago”.
Steve Reed, Labour’s newly appointed shadow justice secretary, said: “The justice secretary doesn’t understand how justice operates in our country.
“No wonder fear of crime is increasing under this shower of a government.”
Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence, added: “Dominic Raab seemingly thinks he’s the justice secretary in Minority Report where only future crimes are of interest.”
Boris Johnson has not denied reports that his staff held a party on December 18 last year when London was under Tier 3 restrictions but has insisted that no rules were broken.
The Metropolitan Police has said it is considering complaints submitted by two Labour MPs, even though it did not normally investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid regulations.
Last week The Daily Mirror reported that two events took place in No.10 last year in the run-up to the festive season.
The first was said to have been a leaving do for a senior aide held in November, when the country was in a second national lockdown, attended by Johnson who gave a speech.
The second was reportedly a staff party in December where, according to multiple reports, party games were played, food and drink were served, and the revelries went on past midnight.
The rules in place in the capital at the time explicitly banned work Christmas lunches and parties where it is “a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted”.