Partygate: Met says over 100 fines now issued for lockdown breaches

More than 100 fixed-penalty notices have now been handed out for breaches of lockdown rules in Downing Street and Whitehall, the Metropolitan police has announced.

The force previously said it had issued more than 50 such fines, but it had not updated the public on the progress of its investigation in recent weeks while the local election campaign was taking place.

In a brief statement on Thursday, it said the total had reached twice that. The investigation, which covers 12 separate events, is still ongoing.

Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister has still received only one fine, for a birthday party in June 2020.

His wife, Carrie Johnson, and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, were fined for the same event.

Boris Johnson has told friends he believes he will not receive further fines, and said publicly last week that he had not yet been sent a questionnaire from the Met about the leaving do of his aide Lee Cain, at which he is believed to have poured drinks.

Several sources have suggested a separate party was held on the same night, hosted by Carrie Johnson upstairs in the No 10 flat, at which Abba was loudly playing. Johnson is expected to argue that while he was present at that gathering, it was only to interview a possible candidate for a job.

Some fixed penalty notices have already been issued for the “bring your own booze” garden drinks organised by Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, on 20 May 2020. Johnson admitted attending that gathering for a few minutes, but insisted he believed it was a work event.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, responding to the Met’s statement, said: “Boris Johnson stood up in parliament and said Covid rules were followed in No 10 at all times. Now a shocking 100 fines have been issued by the police over Partygate. It shows the scale of the law-breaking in Johnson’s Downing Street and the extent of his lies.”

Even before this latest update, polling carried out by YouGov suggested that 80% of the public believe Johnson has lied about Partygate, while just 8% think he has told the truth.

Many Conservative MPs are awaiting the publication of the senior civil servant Sue Gray’s full report on lockdown breaches in Downing Street, before deciding whether to move against the prime minister.

So far, the Cabinet Office has only published a pared down version of her findings, after she paused her work while the Met investigation took place.

Johnson also faces an investigation by the House of Commons privileges committee into whether he misled parliament by reassuring MPs when the Partygate stories first emerged that “all guidance was followed completely” in Downing Street.

Durham police said last week they would investigate claims that Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules by eating a takeaway curry at a campaign event last year.

The Labour leader, a former director of public prosecutions, announced on Monday that he is confident no rules were broken – but will resign if he is issued with a fine.

 

SOURCE

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