The Metropolitan Police has decided against any action over a Covid lockdown party at Conservative Party headquarters.
Former Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey – believed to be in line for a peerage – and Tory aides were seen posing together for a photo while London was under strict rules.
Several of them wore festive hats, and one was in a Christmas jumper as they raised glasses next to buffet food despite a ban on indoor socialising in December 2020.
But Scotland Yard said in a statement on Friday that officers found “insufficient evidence to disprove the version of events provided by attendees”.
Questions over the “Partygate” event at CCHQ were raised again after it emerged that Boris Johnson had put Mr Bailey forward for a peerage in his resignation honours list.
The former Conservative candidate to be London’s mayor apologised “unreservedly” for the event organised by his campaign team and said it was a “serious error of judgment”.
The Times initially reported that a “raucous” party took place in the basement while Tier 2 restrictions were in place.
After pictures of the festive gathering were published in the Mirror in December last year, the Met then launched an investigation.
But the force concluded that the “photo by itself is not sufficient evidence on which to assess that an offence had been committed”.
Officers issued attendees of the event on 14 December 2020 with questionnaires to determine whether breaches of the rules were committed and fines should be issued.
“The investigation reviewed all the material thoroughly and, after careful consideration, it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to disprove the version of events provided by attendees to a standard that would meet the threshold required,” the Met said.
The force added: “As a result, a decision was made that no further action should be taken.”
Mr Bailey, who remains a London Assembly Member, resigned as chairman of the governing body’s Police and Crime Committee after the picture emerged.
Mr Bailey is said to be on the former prime minister’s list of nominations for peerages, along with Tory MPs Nadine Dorries, Alok Sharma, Alister Jack and Nigel Adams.
Labour said the former PM was trying to reward “lackeys” with jobs for life in the Lords and was putting “the Tory party’s interests before the public’s”.
The Met issued 126 fines over rule breaches in Whitehall and Downing Street while Mr Johnson was prime minister, in a scandal that helped end his premiership.
Mr Johnson and his then-chancellor Rishi Sunak paid fixed-penalty notices over a gathering held for Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday.