Met Police chief Cressida Dick faces backlash after surprise Partygate probe nearly upends Sue Gray inquiry

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MET boss Cressida Dick faced a growing Whitehall backlash last night after her surprise Partygate probe nearly upended Sue Gray’s own inquiry.

Just days before the senior officials’ long awaited findings into No10 bad behaviour were due to be published, the Met Commissioner jumped the gun and declared her detectives were now investigating “a number” of lockdown parties.

Met boss Cressida Dick faced a growing Whitehall backlash last night after her surprise Partygate probe nearly upended Sue Gray’s own inquiry
Dame Cressida declared her detectives were now investigating ‘a number’ of lockdown parties at No10

Dame Cressida had previously insisted she would wait until Gray’s report was published before making a decision on a formal probe – but facing a testy grilling from the City Hall watchdog and a growing public backlash she publicly u-turned.

But her dramatic intervention on Tuesday morning sparked a day of chaos in Government with officials initially insisting Gray’s report would have to be iced until the police concluded their own inquiries.

Gray had been liaising with the Met and handed initial findings over to the cops, but last night Whitehall sources accused the Met of mishandling their announcement.

One said: “There was absolutely no reason Dick could not have waited a day or two other than the fact she was getting it in the neck.”

In an afternoon of claim and counterclaim yesterday, Gray’s allies immediately hit back saying her work was “continuing”.

Then followed hours of wrangling between No10, the Cabinet Office and government lawyers over what could be published without jeopardising any future legal proceedings or the Met probe.

There were also claims – furiously denied – that No10 were seeking to block the publication of Gray’s report and kick the scandal into the long grass while the cops investigated.

But Boris Johnson’s spokesman broke cover in the late afternoon to insist they “were not trying to block” anything.

Some senior No10 figures are desperate to “rip off the plaster” and have the findings published immediately.

After it emerged Scotland Yard had not objected to any publication, No 10 said Ms Gray’s team were in talks over “what may or may not be published”.

A fledgling plan to only publish details of Gray’s investigation that the Met had decided did not meet the threshold for a police probe was quickly abandoned after it became clear events that were under investigation would then be obviously identified.

Last night Ms Gray’s team were still holed up with government lawyers working out how much of the report could be published – as soon as today.

Dame Cressida had tried to resist being dragged into a political storm but sources said an “overwhelming” number of complaints had been made by the public about shindigs held at No 10 while the country was living under draconian restrictions.

One told HOAR: “The commissioner could no longer keep ignoring them.”

Sue Gray had been liaising with the Met and handed initial findings over to the cops, but last night Whitehall sources accused the Met of mishandling their announcement