Over the last two weeks we've all seen a huge amount of media and social media comment on, and I've had many e mails about, the police investigation into claims of parties during Lockdown in 2020 in No10 Downing Street.
There has been particular focus on the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and various unnamed others being issued Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for a gathering in the Cabinet Room, just before a formal meeting there in June 2020.
This the first time a sitting Prime Minister has been given an FPN by the Police, a serious matter - for which the PM has apologised profusely saying 'the public deserved better'.
An FPN does not constitute a criminal offence, so long as settled immediately.
In itself FPN, while serious, is not an offence which would cause a Minister to resign. But the breaking of COVID rules set by the PM and government, and the vital importance of setting an example, makes this a very different type of FPN to a parking offence.
More important though is whether the PM has deliberately misled Parliament. Ministers are governed by the Ministerial Code which states “ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister”.
The PM told Parliament in December last year that the COVID rules were "followed at all times" in No10. The police have decided otherwise, and he has accepted that rules were broken on at least one occasion when he was present.
So clearly the PM has misled Parliament, and he apologised for that some time ago - as is the right and proper thing for Ministers to do: the question is whether this deliberate - did the PM know that he was misleading Parliament? He has said twice this week that he did not.
Yesterday the Opposition tabled a motion to refer that question, when the Police investigation is complete, to Parliament's Privileges Committee. None of us opposed this.
So now that key single question - did the PM knowingly mislead Parliament - goes to a Committee made up of seven MPs from all parties. If they find that he did the Committee will then recommend what the penalty for that should be.
We don't know if other FPNs will be issued for attendance at other events the Police are still investigating, although that must be likely: and obviously we don't know if the PM will be the recipient of more himself. Lastly we don't know what the Sue Gray report will say about who was responsible for what happened.
So what do I think?
Firstly I've already answered constituents who've mailed me to recognise their anger at the whole saga and to remind them that I shared my own views on that publicly in February (https://www.richardgraham.org/news/my-statement-sue-gray-report).
Some of my own colleagues have also decided both that the PM has misled Parliament and that he should resign. I respect their views.
Not misleading Parliament deliberately is at the core of what our democracy, transparency and accountability is all about. Some Ministers (like my former colleague Home Secretary Amber Rudd) have resigned for inadvertently misleading Parliament. That is why the report of the Privileges Committee report is important to us all - not least to me wearing another hat as Chair of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. It is a major issue, if proven.
But I don't like prejudging a process. The whole point of democracy is that we do have (sometimes frustrating and boring) processes - which is why it is right to refer the question to the Committee.
So we have the rest of the police investigation, the Sue Gray report and the Committee then to decide on the question of whether Parliament was deliberately misled. By the end of all that we will all, I am sure, have more than enough information to vote on the Committee report and recommendations.
Some constituents have also asked me to write my own letter of no confidence in the PM to the Chair of the 1922 Committee. Although a small number of MPs have gone public on saying that, with one or two publishing their letters, most MPs won't go public on what is a private matter and that remains my position.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the Committee’s report, the work of MPs and government goes on, and that is my unremitting daily focus.
There will be more on this no doubt, but I hope (perhaps optimistically) not to have to issue another statement until the Privileges Committee report is out.
If any constituent has further questions do please e mail me on email@example.com