Boris Johnson not included in new round of Partygate fines, says Downing Street
Scotland Yard announced today that the number of fines handed out to government staff for law-breaking parties held during the Covid pandemic had passed 100.
In an update on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police said its Operation Hillman investigation into a dozen events in Downing Street and Whitehall remained ongoing.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said that neither the prime minister nor cabinet secretary Simon Case was among those sanctioned in the latest round of fines, which doubled the total of 50 announced last month.
The PM has so far received one fixed penalty notice for £50 in relation to a birthday party in No 10, but is believed to have attended as many as five other events under investigation.
Mr Johnson confirmed that neither he nor his wife Carrie had received another fine, but refused to be drawn on the issue. “As soon as we have more to say on that ... you will be among the very first to know,” he told reporters.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said Downing Street had “racked up the dubious distinction of receiving more fines on the prime minister’s watch than any other location”.
She added: “Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them at record-breaking scale. Britain deserves better.”
The Liberal Democrats said the latest announcement showed the “shocking scale” of rule-breaking in government. “Boris Johnson stood up in parliament and said Covid rules were followed in No 10 at all times,” said leader Sir Ed Davey.
He added: “Now 100 fines have been issued by the police over Partygate, it shows the shocking scale of the law-breaking in Johnson’s Downing Street and the extent of his lies.”
Dominic Cummings suggested that junior No 10 staff who were bitter at being fined for attending events they were told were lawful may get their revenge during the Covid inquiry.
The former No 10 strategist tweeted: “Am getting lots of texts today like ‘I can’t WAIT for the inquiry, I took lots of notes’.”
Several ministers ignored questions about the latest police fines as they joined Mr Johnson for an “away day” cabinet meeting in Stoke-on-Trent.
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said she was “too busy trying to make sure my heels don’t fall through the cracks” when asked about the PM and Partygate.
Police are believed to have issued fines to Downing Street staff in recent days in relation to a Christmas party held at No 10 on 18 December 2020. The festive bash – which took place while London was in strict tier 3 measures – was said to have been attended by dozens of the prime minister’s staff.
Mr Johnson was forced to address the issue of the December 2020 event after the explosive leak last year of a video showing staff holding a mock press conference and making jokes about a Christmas party.
It led to the resignation of government aide Allegra Stratton and the eventual announcement of an investigation by top civil servant Sue Gray.
Scotland Yard would not confirm whether fines had yet been issued over the Christmas gathering, or for any other party, but the 18 December 2020 event is known to be one of 12 that Operation Hillman detectives are investigating.
Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie and chancellor Rishi Sunak were also hit with fixed penalty notices in April over the party held to mark the PM’s 56th birthday party in the No 10 cabinet room.
The PM previously said it “did not occur” to him that the gathering was a violation of his Covid rules – but that he “now humbly accepts” that he did breach the law.
A Cabinet Office leaving do in June 2020, said to have involved karaoke and alcohol, is also believed to have attracted fines. Former ethics chief Helen MacNamara admitted she had received a fixed penalty notice over this event.
Scotland Yard is also believed to have issued fines to government staff who attended a party at No 10 on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last April.