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Unmesh Desai recalls feeling righteous frustration as he sat opposite the head of the Metropolitan police on Tuesday morning. For months Cressida Dick’s force had refused to investigate what appeared to be unambiguous breaches of Covid regulations at Downing Street. “The perception is that you’re covering for those in power,” Desai told the commissioner.

Arms folded, Dick leant towards those assembled for the Greater London authority police and crime committee meeting in Southwark and responded: “We police without fear or favour.”

Moments later, at 10.08am, Dick dropped the bombshell that sent shock waves thundering a mile west to Downing Street and nearby parliament. Desai felt the room go quiet, with others clearly sharing his “total surprise,” at the commissioner’s revelation.

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