I am as astonished and angry at Cressida Dick’s legally incomprehensible decision to  ask for great swarths of Sue Gray’s report to be redacted, as any person who really wants to get to the truth of what has been happening in Downing Street during lockdown. She has asked/requested Sue Gray to make minimal reference to alleged Downing Street parties to ‘avoid any prejudice to our investigation’. It is worded in such as way because the Metropolitan police have no power whatsoever to order her to redact her report.

Publishing the report in full cannot be in breach of the Contempt of Court Act because a criminal case is not yet active. To become active somebody would have to be arrested or a warrant issued for their arrest. Some lawyers, who should know better, warn that the Met have made the request to avoid any potential contamination of a jury trial. The technical term we lawyers use is ‘total bollocks’, except in Latin. The covid regulations are summary, in other words offences that can only be tried in a magistrates court.

Lord MacDonald, a former and highly respected DPP, is quoted as saying that the Met’s actions are disproportionate  as there is a very powerful public interest that the report should be published in full. He is right. Of course, names of certain officials who have given damning evidence should be protected. But that should be the limit of any redactions.

I very much doubt that this is an establishment cover up, but I can hardly blame people for thinking that it is. I suspect that this is just another example of Cressida Dick’s incompetence and unfitness for office. Who on earth gave her the legal advice? Who on earth gave her the political advice? Both are tin eared to public opinion and reality. And if she persists she inadvertently trashes the very institution that she is entrusted to protect. People may jump to the  lazy conclusion that someone has leant on her to get Johnson and senior officials  more time to slither away. Clearly he is of the view that this a get out of jail card and is swanning off to Eastern Europe for a series of photo opportunities.

In 1824 the Duke of Wellington was advised to stop the publication of salacious memoirs known as the Duke and the Scarlet Woman. He declined.His response, ‘publish and be damned’.

I hope Sue Gray lives up to her reputation as a fierce defender of truth and standards and, armed with a stash of written advices from some eminent QCs, does precisely that. And she will not be damned. She will be feted for restoring some honour and integrity to a political system which has produced a Prime Minister who is rotten to the core and corrupts all that he touches.