The Metropolitan police have completed their investigation into lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, and issued a total of 126 fixed-penalty notices, the force has announced.
Thus far Boris Johnson has received one fine. It is not immediately clear if any of the last tranche of fines involve any more for the prime minister.
The Met said it had imposed fines for events on eight dates. However, on several of these, more than one event took place. The Met said that of the 12 events referred to it for investigation, “all resulted or will do so in a FPN being issued”.
If Johnson ends up receiving only one fine it could bring him political respite, given predictions he could be punished multiple times. But the end of the police investigation heralds the imminent publication of the full report into illicit gatherings by the senior civil servant Sue Gray.
An interim version of Gray’s report was published, but the full details were delayed for the police investigation, and could be damning for Johnson and his team.
Of the 126 fines, 53 involved men and 73 women, with some people receiving more than one fixed-penalty notice. The Met has not identified any of the people fined, although Downing Street pledged to say if Johnson or the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, were penalised.
Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, were among people fined for attending a brief birthday party for the prime minister in the cabinet room on 19 June 2020.
The eight dates for which fines have been issued are:
- 20 May 2020, when “bring your own booze” drinks were held in the Downing Street garden.
- 18 June 2020, when a party was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.
- 19 June, the date of Johnson’s birthday party, for which he was fined.
- 13 November 2020, when a leaving do was held for adviser Lee Cain as well as a party in the No 10 flat.
- 17 December 2020 when several parties were held, including one to mark the departure of Covid taskforce boss Kate Josephs.
- 18 December, the date of the “cheese and wine” gathering which led to the resignation of Allegra Stratton.
- 14 January 2021, when gatherings were held to mark the departure of two private secretaries, as revealed by Sue Gray.
- 16 April, the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, when two parties were held, one of which culminated in Wilfred Johnson’s swing being broken.
In its statement, the Met said that while it did not routinely investigate historical Covid breaches, it would do so if there was evidence those involved knew they were breaking rules, where the case was clear, and “where not investigating would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law”.
The acting deputy commissioner of the Met Helen Ball said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic impacted all of us in so many ways and strong feelings and opinions have been expressed on this particular issue.
“When Covid regulations were introduced, the Met was clear that whilst we would not routinely investigate breaches of regulations retrospectively, there may be occasions when it would be appropriate to do so.
“The information that we received with regard to the alleged breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall was sufficient to reach our criteria to begin such an investigation.
“Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed and the importance of ensuring that we had strong evidence for each FPN referral.
“This investigation is now complete.”
Source: The Epochtimes