LONDON — The British police said on Friday that they had asked for critical details to be withheld from an eagerly awaited government investigation of parties at 10 Downing Street during England’s coronavirus lockdowns, giving Prime Minister Boris Johnson some political breathing space but provoking an outcry from critics.
“For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. The police added that they had not asked for the report to be delayed or for it to be scrubbed of details that are not under police investigation.
But as a practical matter, the request means the report will almost certainly not contain information about the most serious accusations about social gatherings that violated lockdown restrictions. The stream of reports about illicit gatherings, and Mr. Johnson’s dissembling response to them, has mushroomed into a major scandal, threatening his hold on power.
Many lawmakers in Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party have said they would wait for the internal report — by a senior civil servant, Sue Gray — before deciding whether to submit letters calling for a no-confidence vote in Mr. Johnson. If the most incriminating details are withheld, it could slow the momentum against him.
Opposition leaders pounced on the prospect of a heavily redacted report, arguing that it would amount to a whitewash.