15 Feb 2022

David Corker comments on the Met’s questionnaire outreach as part of the Operation Hillman investigation

Partner David Corker has provided legal insight into Operation Hillman, the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into alleged lockdown breaches in Downing Street.

The Met has recently sent questionnaires to more than fifty individuals within Downing Street and across the wider Government to obtain their accounts of the twelve illicit gatherings which are currently being investigated.

David states: “If an individual is suspected of committing a crime, they must first receive a caution from the police before they are questioned. It is permissible to give the caution in writing only, at the top, for example, of a questionnaire. In this particular situation, the 50 or so recipients of the questionnaire may be designated as suspects, and not witnesses.

The premise of this questionnaire is a fact-finding exercise by the police, as a practical and efficient way to collate information from a large group of individuals. Additionally, conducting police interviews is disproportionate in a situation where the offence under investigation is punishable by a fixed penalty notice. If the Prime Minister also receives the questionnaire this would suggest that the police potentially have incriminating material that places him at a Number 10 party.

In reality, recipients of the questionnaire may choose not to answer it in full, or at all, but of course such a refusal by a civil servant, SPAD or politician would probably be career-ending as their stance would inevitably be leaked. Anyone who attempts to mislead the police in their answers would place themselves in jeopardy of the offence of perverting the course of justice.”

To read more about Corker Binning’s expertise in police investigations click here.

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