PM and Cabinet Secretary not hit with latest partygate fines, No 10 says

The Metropolitan Police has made around a further 50 fixed penalty notice referrals as part of its investigation into lockdown-breaking party claims.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson was not among those to be fined in the latest tranche of penalties issued by the Metropolitan Police over partygate, Downing Street has confirmed.

It was announced on Thursday that the force has made around a further 50 fixed penalty notice referrals as part of its investigation into possible lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and across Whitehall.

It brings the number of fines to more than 100 – with Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak hit with fixed penalty notices in April over a birthday party held for the Prime Minister in No 10’s Cabinet Room in June 2020.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson had broken his own rules at “record-breaking scale”, adding that “Britain deserves better”.

It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is caught in a row of his own over a possible Covid rule breach after he was filmed last year drinking beer with staff in a party office in Durham.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman confirmed following the Met’s update that neither the PM nor Cabinet Secretary Simon Case were among those fined in the latest tranche.

“With regards to the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister, I don’t have any update … the position (is) we will update you if that were to change,” he said.

Pressed on whether it was his understanding that the PM and Mr Case were not among those hit with the most recent set of penalties, the spokesman said: “That’s correct, yeah.”

He added: “You’ll know that the Prime Minister has on a number of occasions apologised and made clear that there were things we simply did not get right, and that he is sorry for how this matter has been handled.

“Obviously that remains the case. And like I say, he will have more to say at the conclusion … and when the Sue Gray report is published.”

The Prime Minister said he was “sure we’ll have plenty to say about that when the thing’s finished” when asked about the extent of law-breaking in Downing Street as he arrived for a Cabinet meeting in Staffordshire on Thursday.

Ministers dodged questions on whether they still had faith in the PM when asked about the latest development at the same event.

Home Secretary Priti Patel failed to say whether or not she still supported Mr Johnson, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid also chose not to answer when asked why the PM would not resign, despite Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s promise to do so if he is handed a fixed penalty notice.

In a statement on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police said: “As of Thursday May 12, Operation Hillman, the investigation into breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street, has made more than 100 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office.

“These referrals have continued to be made throughout the period since our last update on Tuesday April 12 and the investigation remains live.”

In its last update on April 12, the Met said “over 50″ FPN referrals had been made.

Mr Johnson previously said it “did not occur” to him the gathering to mark his 56th birthday was a violation of coronavirus rules, but that he “now humbly accepts” he did breach Covid-19 laws.

He is alleged to have been at six of the 12 events being examined by the force, meaning he could be fined again.

The Met sent out more than 100 questionnaires earlier this year in relation to allegations of law-breaking parties in Government buildings while pandemic-related restrictions were in place.

It was previously reported that some Government staff had received new questionnaires from the force in relation to a leaving party for the Prime Minister’s former communications director, Lee Cain, on November 13 2020.

But Mr Johnson indicated earlier this month that he was not among those to be sent one, telling Times Radio, “I am not commenting on this stuff generally, but the answer to that is no, not so far, or certainly not to my knowledge.

“All of this will become clear with the end of the investigation.”

There have been ongoing calls for Mr Johnson to resign over the saga from opposition MPs, as well as his own backbenches, but he has repeatedly said he is determined to get on with the job.

In addition to the Scotland Yard probe and an investigation by Ms Gray, a senior civil servant, into the partygate claims, the PM is facing a third inquiry by the Privileges Committee into whether he misled Parliament with his repeated assurances that Covid rules were followed in No 10.

Sir Keir has pledged to stand down if he is fined for breaching coronavirus regulations.

Asked in an interview broadcast on Thursday if he too should resign in the event the Labour leader steps down, Mr Johnson told LBC: “What matters to me and the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is not stuff that, I think, is, however fascinating (it) is to people, I don’t think is material to the cost of living.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson previously said it ‘did not occur’ to him the gathering to mark his 56th birthday was a violation of coronavirus rules (Jacob King/PA)

“What matters to me is getting our people through the aftershocks of Covid and coming out strongly the other side, but making sure that we use … all the legislative firepower in the Queen’s Speech, all the things that we’re doing on skills, on infrastructure, on the cost of energy, on education, to make sure that we have a strong economic recovery, that we power through.”

On Wednesday, Communities Secretary Michael Gove said it was “bonkeroony” to suggest Mr Johnson should have to resign over lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg made clear his continued backing of the Prime Minister, saying he “deserves” his support.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi also said they still had faith in their leader when asked about the fines as they attended the Staffordshire meeting.

The latest revelations were condemned by Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey, said who said they reflected the “shocking scale of law-breaking” in Boris Johnson’s Downing Street and “the extent of his lies”.

Ms Rayner said: “Boris Johnson’s Downing Street has now reached a century of fixed penalty notices for their partying.

“They have racked up the dubious distinction of receiving more fines on the Prime Minister’s watch than any other location.

“Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them at record-breaking scale. Britain deserves better.”

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