Ministers and the country’s most senior civil servant discussed how they needed to “get heavy with the police” to crack down on the public during the Covid pandemic. The Telegraph has the story.
WhatsApp messages in the Lockdown Files disclose how Matt Hancock and colleagues gave officers their “marching orders” to enforce lockdown measures, just days before Number 10 staff held a party in Downing Street.
They also messaged about how “the plod got their marching orders” during a meeting attended by the prime minister, the home secretary and Simon Case, now the Cabinet Secretary.
Despite ministers claiming in public that the police are operationally independent of the Government, the leaked messages reveal that senior officers were hauled into Number 10 to be told they should be stricter with the public.
The first conversation took place in late August 2020 after Mr Case, then a permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, asked Mr. Hancock, the then Health Secretary:
The leaked messages also show that the pair again returned to their fears that police were failing to crack down on alleged lockdown breaches.
After a meeting on January 10th 2021, shortly after another lockdown had begun, Mr Hancock wrote to Mr Case:
Mr Case replied to the message but did not address the comment about the police.
The messages also show ministers and officials celebrating police cracking down on Covid rule-breakers and the implementation of other hardline rules.
Mr. Case joked with Mr Hancock in February 2021 about the public being kept in quarantine hotels to avoid a fine.
The next month, as concern mounted about importing cases of the virus from abroad, Boris Johnson said it was “superb” that two people had been fined £10,000 for returning to Dubai without quarantining.
Worth reading in full.