THE Metropolitan Police have been given two weeks to launch an investigation into Christmas parties held on Downing Street while the rest of the UK was in lockdown before legal action against them begins.

The ultimatum has been handed to the London force by Good Law Project, who have published legal advice which concludes that their decision not to investigate the widely reported lockdown breaches is unlawful.

The advice was written by top policing barrister Danny Friedman QC - who served as a temporary high court judge in 2020 - and leading authority on Covid regulations, Doughty Street Chambers barrister Adam Wagner.

It looked at the reasons given by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for refusing to investigate reports of a slew of parties held at No 10 and in other government offices during lockdown.

READ MORE: Met Police face legal action over refusal to probe No 10 Christmas parties

In early December, the MPS said its decision not to probe the parties was “based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations”.

The legal advice looks at both of these excuses given.

The first, that there is an “absence of evidence”, is “arguably unlawful”, the legal advice says.

It states: “That the present available information is largely, but not exclusively, media based does not mean that those accounts do not contain “evidence”, admissible in a criminal trial or otherwise that breach(es) have been committed.

“The materials published by the media, and the overall circumstances in which the materials have come to light and been commented on, appear to hold out the very real prospect that further admissible evidence will come to light.”

The second, that the MPS has a “policy not to investigate retrospective breaches”, would “almost certainly be unlawful”, the advice states.

READ MORE: Man investigating No 10 Christmas parties 'held Christmas parties', reports claim

It goes on: “If the policy does not entirely prevent such investigations, but is overly rigid and inflexible, for example if in almost all instances it would preclude an investigation … this would also be likely to be unlawful.

“In any event, the failure to publish the policy is likely to be unlawful.”

Commenting, Good Law Project director Jo Maugham (below) said: "We remain astonished at what looks, to us, like the Met’s willingness to tolerate conduct that undermines public health and erodes trust in the rule of law. Would they be as shy had you or I broken the law? We rather doubt it.

The National:

"A week ago today we wrote to the Met telling them we intended to sue if they continued to refuse to uphold the law. They have two weeks to change their minds."

The Met said it had nothing further to add to a comment released on December 16.

However, Good Law Project's legal advice has considered that comment and found that it may indicate practice which is "likely to be unlawful".

The Met's comment further says it is in contact with the Cabinet Office, who will pass over any evidence of unlawful behaviour. However, on Friday it was revealed that the man in charge of that Cabinet Office probe may have hosted two lockdown-busting Christmas parties himself

The statement further says that, despite having been given a "significant amount of material in relation to the allegations reported in the media", the Met does not consider any of it to "provide evidence of a breach".