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STEPHEN GLOVER: Why is the Metropolitan Police wasting resources investigating No10

Many argue that the Metropolitan Police are right to investigate the parties which took place in Downing Street in apparent contravention of Covid regulations.

They say the police are showing that in Britain no one — not even the Prime Minister — is above the law. Such a process couldn’t happen in Putin’s Russia, or even in Macron’s France. Thank God we’re British!

It is a superficially attractive argument, but wrong. Needless to say, if there were evidence of serious criminality in No 10, or even Buckingham Palace, the police should carry out whatever inquiries they deemed necessary.

There is, however, no such evidence. There are allegations, some of which appear cast-iron, that illegal parties took place. But shameful though these parties undoubtedly were, they constitute in legal terms an offence roughly on a par with a parking ticket.

Many argue that the Metropolitan Police are right to investigate the parties which took place in Downing Street in apparent contravention of Covid regulations

Moreover, the senior civil servant Sue Gray has spent weeks looking into partying claims, and as I write is about to produce her report. What she concludes is likely to settle the fate of several people, not least the Prime Minister

Moreover, the senior civil servant Sue Gray has spent weeks looking into partying claims, and as I write is about to produce her report. What she concludes is likely to settle the fate of several people, not least the Prime Minister

Moreover, the senior civil servant Sue Gray has spent weeks looking into partying claims, and as I write is about to produce her report. What she concludes is likely to settle the fate of several people, not least the Prime Minister.

One can’t rule out the possibility, however faint it may be, that a more substantial offence was committed which the police should examine. But to announce an investigation before the report has been published suggests lop-sided reasoning.

   

More from Stephen Glover for the Daily Mail…

The Met inquiry will soak up thousands of hours, and cast a shadow over the workings of government for weeks, or months. Dozens of people will be interviewed, many of whom have already been scrutinised by Sue Gray.

Why has Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, decided on a course of action which she had previously rejected when she said her officers wouldn’t investigate breaches of Covid rules retrospectively?

Her defenders will claim she doesn’t wish to be seen favouring the powerful. This may form part of her calculations. But I submit that this is yet another example of the police being grotesquely wasteful, overbearing, bone-headed and out of touch.

The denizens of Downing Street can probably look after themselves. What I deplore is that the Met has once again demonstrated a lack of proportionality and an absence of common sense that make me despair of the country’s largest police force.

Let’s examine the contention that the boys in blue must show the same even-handedness with the powerful as with ordinary people. I’d look at it another way. Hasn’t the Met, as have other forces, shown excessive zeal in enforcing draconian Covid rules against everyone?

In October 2020, Scotland Yard sent a letter to owners of pubs and restaurants encouraging them to snoop on customers to make them obey lockdown rules. Its subsequent withdrawal of the ill-judged advice is no defence.

No 10 should be expected to respect Covid rules, as we all are. There is another point, though — which is that, throughout the pandemic, the police have displayed a lack of proportionality towards the general public which they have demonstrated again by announcing this unnecessary investigation

No 10 should be expected to respect Covid rules, as we all are. There is another point, though — which is that, throughout the pandemic, the police have displayed a lack of proportionality towards the general public which they have demonstrated again by announcing this unnecessary investigation

Of course, such officiousness wasn’t limited to the Met. During lockdown in January 2021, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Martin Hewitt, issued a statement which gave police the green light to interrogate anyone who had left home.

He wrote: ‘It is right for officers to be inquisitive about why individuals may be away from home.’ That’s the path towards a police state. It was liable to instil anxiety in law-abiding citizens, who should have nothing to fear from the police.

Many will remember how, at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, Derbyshire Police used drones to film people in pairs who were rambling in the middle of nowhere. This was intended to intimidate — to make upstanding people far away from Derbyshire frightened in their own country.

So, yes, No 10 should be expected to respect Covid rules, as we all are. There is another point, though — which is that, throughout the pandemic, the police have displayed a lack of proportionality towards the general public which they have demonstrated again by announcing this unnecessary investigation.

Consider, too, the huge cost of putting Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors and her team on the case. Miss Connors is notorious for ardently enforcing Covid rules. In that cause, she defended officers after they strong-armed mourners who gathered last March for a vigil for Sarah Everard, murdered by a policeman

Consider, too, the huge cost of putting Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors and her team on the case. Miss Connors is notorious for ardently enforcing Covid rules. In that cause, she defended officers after they strong-armed mourners who gathered last March for a vigil for Sarah Everard, murdered by a policeman

Consider, too, the huge cost of putting Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors and her team on the case. Miss Connors is notorious for ardently enforcing Covid rules. In that cause, she defended officers after they strong-armed mourners who gathered last March for a vigil for Sarah Everard, murdered by a policeman.

I won’t be surprised if this needless delving into parties costs millions. It is bound to if it drags on many months and involves many officers. Is this a sensible way to spend public money when Sue Gray, who seems perfectly competent, has already conducted her own inquiry?

If your house is burgled in London, or indeed anywhere else, it is unlikely that you will get much assistance from our supposedly hard-pressed police. They can nevertheless find time to interview dozens of people in Downing Street, whose ‘crime’ is to have attended a party that they shouldn’t have.

In fact, in 2017 the Met issued officers with guidelines informing them that they no longer need to investigate lesser incidents of grievous bodily harm or car crime unless a victim identifies a suspect. Meanwhile, a victim of a non-violent ‘hate crime’ is likely to have concerned officers on the phone.

This is what I mean by a lack of proportionality. Money and officers can always be found to mount high-profile investigations such as the one in Downing Street, while the real crimes which concern us in our everyday lives are often ignored.

There have been other expensive Met inquiries in recent years which betrayed incompetence and produced few results. Scotland Yard assembled dozens of detectives at an estimated cost of £20million to investigate payments allegedly made by journalists to public officials. A trickle of convictions followed

There have been other expensive Met inquiries in recent years which betrayed incompetence and produced few results. Scotland Yard assembled dozens of detectives at an estimated cost of £20million to investigate payments allegedly made by journalists to public officials. A trickle of convictions followed

There have been other expensive Met inquiries in recent years which betrayed incompetence and produced few results. Scotland Yard assembled dozens of detectives at an estimated cost of £20million to investigate payments allegedly made by journalists to public officials. A trickle of convictions followed.

And then there was Operation Midland, in which the implausible ravings of the fantasist Carl Beech led to the hounding of several public figures. One of them was Lord Bramall, a World War II hero and former Chief of the Defence Staff, whose Hampshire home was searched for ten hours by 20 police officers.

By the way, the same Cressida Dick who has turned her attention to parties in No 10 was instrumental in Operation Midland, which cost £2.5million, every penny of which was wasted. Not one police officer involved in persecuting these innocent people received an official sanction.

When politicians, leading public figures and journalists are accused of wrongdoing, the police can always find time and resources. In 2014, numerous officers from South Yorkshire Police raided Cliff Richard’s Berkshire home with a police helicopter flying overhead. He was never arrested or charged.

Officers are supposed to be approachable, and to police by consent. They used to be different from their Continental counterparts. Thirty years ago, when I saw a policeman I thought I saw a friend.

Alas, this is often no longer the case — especially not after the overbearing and officious enforcement of Covid rules. The police increasingly seem to occupy another planet. I don’t deny that individual officers can be pleasant and helpful. But their bosses have retreated into their own world.

Something has gone very wrong. If the Met’s poking about No 10 opens the eyes of our rulers to police shortcomings — and the need to find a balanced and sensible successor to Cressida Dick when she retires in 2024 — perhaps some good can still come out of this silly and ill-judged investigation. 


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