BORIS Johnson was officially under criminal investigation by the police as he responded in the Commons to Sue Gray's report on Monday to the lockdown parties at Number 10.

It is the first time that a sitting Prime Minister has been at the centre of a police probe since Tony Blair was interviewed by the Met over the cash for honours scandal.

As the embattled PM addresed MPs, it emerged that more than 300 photographs had been handed to the Metropolitan Police Service as part of its investigation into lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street.

Commander Catherine Roper said police received a raft of material last week during its probe into the allegations and now has a dossier spanning more than 500 pages.

She told reporters on Monday: “We had a bundle of material provided to us just Friday which is well over 500 pieces of paper, about a ream and a half, and over 300 photographs.”

To howls of resign, Johnson told the Commons: “Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.

READ MORE: Sue Gray report: Ian Blackford KICKED OUT of House of Commons after Boris Johnson criticism

“It’s no use saying this or that was within the rules and it’s no use saying people were working hard. This pandemic was hard for everyone.”

Johnson said that “we are making changes now to the way Downing Street and the Cabinet Office run so that we can get on with the job that I was elected to do and the job that this Government was elected to do”.

He added: “First it is time to sort out what Sue Gray rightly calls the fragmented and complicated leadership structures of Downing Street which she says have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of the expansion of Number 10 and we will do that, including by creating an Office of the Prime Minister with a permanent secretary to lead Number 10.”

The Prime Minister continued: “It is whether this Government can be trusted to deliver, and I say ‘yes we can be trusted to deliver’.”

He added: “The reason we are coming out of Covid so fast is at least partly because we doubled the speed of the booster rollout and I can tell the House and this country that we are going to bring the same energy and commitment to getting on with the job to delivering for the British people and to our mission to unite and level up across this country.”

Concluding his statement on the Sue Gray report, Johnson said: “I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country I know what the issue is.”
Labour MPs should back: “You!”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the Prime Minister to publish Sue Gray’s report in full but insisted it is already clear that what she has disclosed so far is “the most damning conclusion possible”.

Sir Keir told the House of Commons: “The Prime Minister repeatedly assured the House that the guidance was followed and the rules were followed. But we now know that 12 cases have breached the threshold for criminal investigation, which I remind the House means that there is evidence of serious and flagrant breaches of lockdown, including the party on May 20 2020, which we know the Prime Minister attended, and the party on November 13 2020 in the Prime Minister’s flat.

“There can be no doubt that the Prime Minister himself is now subject to criminal investigation. The Prime Minister must keep his promise to publish Sue Gray’s report in full when it is available, but it is already clear what the report disclosed is the most damning conclusion possible.”

Starmer told MPs: “By routinely breaking the rules he set, the Prime Minister took us all for fools, he held people’s sacrifice in contempt, he showed himself unfit for office.

“His desperate denials since he was exposed have only made matters worse. Rather than come clean, every step of the way he’s insulted the public’s intelligence.

“And now he’s finally fallen back on his usual excuse: it’s everybody’s fault but his. They go, he stays. Even now he is hiding behind a police investigation into criminality in his home and his office.

“He gleefully treats what should be a mark of shame as a welcome shield. But Prime Minister, the British public aren’t fools, they never believed a word of it, they think the Prime Minister should do the decent thing and resign.

“Of course he won’t because he is a man without shame and just as he has done throughout his life, he’s damaged everyone and everything around him along the way.

“His colleagues have spent weeks defending the indefensible, touring the TV studios parroting his absurd denials, degrading themselves and their offices, fraying the bond of trust between the Government and the public, eroding our democracy and the rule of law.”

Johnson's predecessor Theresa May - who he helped to bring down - was among the Conservative backbenchers to turn on the embattled Prime Minister.

She said: “The Covid regulations imposed significant restrictions on the freedoms of members of the public. They had a right to expect their Prime Minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules and indeed those around him to have done so too and to set an example in following those rules.

“What the Gray report does show is that Number 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public, so either my right honourable friend had not read the rules or didn’t understand what they meant and others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?”

Johnson replied: “No, Mr Speaker that is not what the Gray report says, I suggest that she waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.”

There was further drama when the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford was ordered to leave the House of Commons after refusing to withdraw his assertion that Johnson had misled MPs.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked Blackford to confirm he had withdrawn the claims.

Blackford replied: “That the Prime Minister may have inadvertently misled the House.”

Sir Lindsay countered: “To help me help the House, you’ve withdrawn your earlier comment and replaced it with inadvertently?”

Blackford said: “It’s not my fault if the Prime Minister can’t be trusted to tell the truth.”

Amid raucous shouting from the Tory benches, the Speaker said: “Under the power given to me by standing order number 43 I order the honourable member to withdraw immediately from the House.”

Blackford walked out the chamber before the Speaker had finished, with Sir Lindsay noting: “It’s all right, we don’t need to bother.”

During his speech Blackford said the Sue Gray’s report was a “farce” with “no facts”.

As he spoke he was repeatedly asked by Hoyle to withdraw the word “misled”, after accusing Johnson of having “wilfully misled Parliament”.

Blackford told MPs: “So here we have it. The long-awaited Sue Gray report, what a farce. It was carefully engineered to be a fact-finding exercise, with no conclusions. Now we find it’s a fact-finding exercise with no facts.

“So let’s talk facts. The Prime Minister has told the House that all guidance was completely followed, there was no party, Covid rules were followed and that ‘I believed it was a work event’.

“Nobody, nobody believed it then. And nobody, nobody believes you now, Prime Minister. That is the crux – no ifs, no buts – he has wilfully misled Parliament.”

More to follow