UK

Chancellor Rishi Sunak receives ‘partygate’ questionnaire from police

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has received a questionnaire as part of the police inquiry into alleged COVID lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street.

During the Metropolitan Police’s ongoing Operation Hillman, more than 50 people have been sent a document to ask for their account and explanation of participation in “partygate” events.

Scotland Yard has warned recipients that the questionnaire has formal legal status and must be answered truthfully, with responses required within seven days.

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Mr Sunak’s receipt of a questionnaire comes just two weeks after he told Sky News he had not broken lockdown rules.

“No… well, I don’t know,” the chancellor added, when asked earlier this month if he was expecting to receive a questionnaire.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already returned his own questionnaire to the Met Police.

More on Downing Street Parties

As well as asking for the accounts of attendees of events, Scotland Yard is also sifting through more than 500 documents and 300 images.

These were provided to them by the Cabinet Office, following senior civil servant Sue Gray’s own inquiry into the “partygate” allegations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament.
Image:
Boris Johnson has already returned his own questionnaire

Ms Gray has already concluded there were “failures of leadership” in Number 10 and that “some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify”.

Earlier this month, Mr Sunak admitted he attended what is reported to have been a birthday party for Mr Johnson in June 2020, during the UK’s first national lockdown.

However, the chancellor stressed he had been in the Cabinet Room for a routine meeting about coronavirus.

“I went to that Cabinet Room, as I did many other times for COVID meetings,” Mr Sunak told the BBC. “And it’s right, that we allow this police investigation.”

Asked whether he had been aware of multiple events during coronavirus lockdowns, the chancellor – who works and lives in Downing Street – said: “People seem to think that I’m spending all my time there staring out of this window behind me…

“[But] I spent half my time in the Treasury, as well as working here.”

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