Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to be fined over Covid lockdown-breaking Partygate

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Prime minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have been issued with fines for breaching Coronavirus lockdown rules in the wake of the "Partygate" inquiry.

The fixed penalty notices sent to Johnson and Sunak are among dozens of fines handed to government staff who attended parties in Downing Street and Whitehall while lockdown restrictions were in place during 2020 and 2021.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices.

"We have no further details, but we will update you again when we do."

The Prime minister's wife is also understood to have been fined. A spokesperson for Mrs Johnson said: “In the interests of transparency, Mrs Johnson can confirm she has been notified that she will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice. She has not yet received any further details about the nature of the FPN.”

The fines follow revelations about at least a dozen parties held while Covid restrictions were in force – including a gathering in the cabinet room for the Prime minister's birthday in June 2020, which was also attended by Sunak.

In one leaked photo, Johnson was shown hosting a lockdown-busting Christmas Quiz.

Lobby Akinnola, spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said Johnson and Sunak “broke the law” and “took us all for mugs”.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on December 1, Johnson had insisted to MPs that “all guidance was followed completely in No10” .

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As part of an investigation into the reports of parties during lockdown, he Met had sent questionnaires to around 100 Downing Street and Whitehall staff members .

It was made clear to recipients that the document was a formal legal document and had to be answered truthfully.

Late last month, the force confirmed detectives working on Operation Hillman, as it was called, had begun interviewing key witnesses on details related to the questionnaire responses.

Among those who have already been issued with fines are the government's former head of ethics Helen MacNamara..

Ms MacNamara – who is now working as the Premier League's director of policy – said she apologised for "the error of judgement" she showed in attending a leaving drinks party for a No.10 staff member in June 2020.

Labour has described the penalties as yet more evidence of “widespread criminality at the heart of Downing Street” while a campaign group representing the families of Covid-19 victims said news of the Downing Street parties was “unbelievably painful”.

Sir Keir Starmer has said that both the PM and Chancellor should quit, saying: "Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign".

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has also issued a statement, saying: "These fines expose the shocking scale of the criminality in Boris Johnson's Number 10.

"The police have now completely shredded Johnson's claims that no laws were broken. He cannot be trusted and cannot continue as Prime Minister.

"No other leader in any other organisation would be allowed to continue after law-breaking on this scale. If Boris Johnson won't resign, Conservative MPs must show him the door."

Matt Fowler, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, added: "There you have it – it's now indisputable that whilst bereaved families were unable to be at their loved ones' sides in their last moments, or stood at their funerals alone, the people responsible for protecting us in Downing St were partying and rule breaking en masse.

"It's a reality that is unbelievably painful for bereaved families like mine to face as we try and move forward with our lives.

"It's plain as day," he added, "that there was a culture of boozing and rule breaching at the highest level of Government, whilst the British public was making unimaginable sacrifices to protect their loved ones and communities.'

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In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "The investigation into allegations of breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street continues to progress.

"As of Tuesday, 12 April 2022, we have made over 50 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for breaches of Covid-19 regulations who, following the referral, issue the FPNs to the individual.

"We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed, this includes continuing to assess significant amounts of investigative material from which further referrals may be made to ACRO".

Once a fine has been issued, Johnson and Sunak will have the option to either pay within 28 days or contest the police decision.

If they contest the fine, police will review the case – they will then then either withdraw the penalty or take the matter to court.

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