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Scotland Yard investigating COVID-19 lockdown parties attended by Boris Johnson, others

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Scotland Yard investigating COVID-19 lockdown parties attended by Boris Johnson, others
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen outside his residence at 10 Downing Street in London to show support for front-line workers during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Amid calls for his resignation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other government officials became the target of a police investigation over parties that were held at 10 Downing Street during early COVID-19 lockdowns.

London's Metropolitan Police said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into whether Johnson or other government officials violated coronavirus restrictions by holding the parties, which have drawn severe criticism for Johnson and led many British politicians to demand he leave office.

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London police said they will examine a series of parties at Johnson's Downing Street office during the spring and winter of 2020 during the early weeks of the pandemic -- a time when Britons were barred from staging or attending social gatherings.

"I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said in a statement.

The streets of downtown London are virtually empty on March 27, 2020, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a national lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
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Dick said officers have looked into several other events that appear to have taken place at the Downing Street and Whitehall locations that have not yet reached a criminal investigation.

"Throughout the pandemic the Met has sought, as I have said, to take a proportionate approach," Dick added. "I should stress the fact that the Met is investigating does not mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved.

"We will not be giving a running commentary on our current investigations, but I can assure you that we will give updates at significant points as we would normally do."

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Earlier this month, Johnson apologized for attending the parties while the rest of the country was barred from doing so.

"I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the anguish that they have been through," he said.

"I know the rage they feel with me, and with the government I lead, when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules were not being properly followed by the people who make the rules."

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Johnson, 55, was hospitalized in intensive care in April 2020 with a severe case of COVID-19. A month later, he and fiancee Carrie Symonds named their new baby after two doctors who treated him.

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Johnson has refused calls to resign, which have come from politicians within and outside his Conservative Party.

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