Met request ‘absolute nonsense’

Lawyers have questioned the Met’s request, but Commander Roper said it was normal “to protect the integrity of the police investigation… and to be as fair as possible to those who are subject to it”.

“This will only be necessary until these matters are concluded and is to give detectives the most reliable picture of what happened at these events,” she added.

Commander Roper said a fixed fine would be the normal result if the lockdown-breaking offences under investigation are proven.

Some have questioned how the Met’s investigation could be prejudiced if only lesser offences are being considered.

Publication of reports and other inquiries can often be delayed until a police investigation and any court case is concluded, typically to avoid prejudicing a jury.

However, if police investigate under coronavirus laws there would be little risk as the penalty for breaking lockdown rules is a fine and highly unlikely to result in a prosecution.

Nazir Afzal, a former chief prosecutor for the North West, tweeted: “This is absolute nonsense from the Met Police.

“A purely factual report by Sue Gray cannot possibly prejudice a police investigation. They just have to follow the evidence, of which the report will be a part.”

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald also suggested to the BBC that the Met’s stance was “disproportionate”.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said he wanted the report “in full and the investigation finished as quickly as possible”, claiming the government was “paralysed” by the police probe.

“Any issues of prejudice have got to be worked through but this whole mess, this whole paralysing of politics, is being caused by the prime minister and his wrongdoing,” he said.