Boris Johnson Referred to Police Over Potential New Covid Breach


    Boris Johnson, the former prime minister of Britain, has again been referred to the police by a government office to assess claims that he may have further violated coronavirus regulations, the Cabinet Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Mr. Johnson, who is currently visiting Texas to lobby for Republican support for Ukraine, was fined last year while still in office for breaking Covid rules in 2020, one of a series of scandals during his tumultuous term that eventually led to his resignation last summer.

    He had faced a barrage of criticism over gatherings held at his residence and government offices during strict coronavirus lockdowns, which his government implemented in 2020 and 2021 while the country was suffering through the worst of the pandemic.

    The scandal soon came to be known as “partygate.” An investigation into a number of the gatherings found that members of his staff had held parties that violated pandemic restrictions, and the police fined Mr. Johnson this spring for having broken lockdown rules at Downing Street.

    At a parliamentary hearing in March over whether he lied to lawmakers about lockdown-busting parties, Mr. Johnson denied being untruthful but struggled to justify some of the misleading statements he made. Parliament has not yet issued a report on the matter.

    But The Times of London has reported that the latest referral to the police is linked to new allegations about his behavior in Downing Street as well as several visits to the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, that came to light during preparations for a public inquiry into the pandemic.

    Britain’s Cabinet Office did not clarify the exact circumstances but said in a statement on Tuesday that it had referred the details of a potential breach “to the relevant authorities and it is now a matter for them.”

    London’s Metropolitan Police and the Thames Valley Police, which oversee the area including the prime minister’s country house, have both had the case referred to them to investigate.

    The Metropolitan Police said they were assessing information they had received from the Cabinet Office last week that “relates to potential breaches of the Health Protection Regulations between June 2020 and May 2021 at Downing Street.”

    A spokesman for Mr. Johnson told the BBC that the former prime minister denied any wrongdoing. But the latest allegations have already drawn swift condemnation from his political opponents and from the family members of those who died of the coronavirus, many of whom had long been critical of Mr. Johnson’s approach to the pandemic.

    Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, a group that represents those who died from the coronavirus and that aims to hold public officials involved in the country’s response to account, said the new revelations “make a grim mockery of Boris Johnson’s claims that he didn’t break his own lockdown rules.”

    “His legacy is one of lying, complete contempt for the ordinary people he was supposed to protect, and above all presiding over the deaths of nearly 200k people,” the organization said in a statement posted to Twitter. “If he had any respect he’s quietly step back from public life and reflect on the pain and suffering he has inflicted.”

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