Boris Johnson news – live: Met Police tell Downing Street staff not to confer over Covid party questionnaire

Downing Street staff have been told by the Metropolitan Police not to confer with each other when answering a questionnaire about parties which potentially broke Covid rules and have been warned that, should they do so, it could constitute a “separate offence”.

Meanwhile, former health secretary Matt Hancock did not comply with a public sector equality duty when appointing Conservative peer Baroness Dido Harding and Mike Coupe to posts in 2020.

Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Swift granted a declaration to the Runnymede Trust on Tuesday after considering arguments at a High Court hearing in December.

Campaign group the Good Law Project joined the trust in making complaints – arguing that the Government had not adopted an “open” process when making appointments to posts “critical to the pandemic response” – but their claim was dismissed.

Elsewhere, Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden has denounced what he claimed was a “painful woke psychodrama” sweeping the West as he gave a speech on so-called “cancel culture” hosted by a right-wing think tank.

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