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Irish Independent

No new fine for Johnson in latest round of lockdown penalties

British prime minister 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 yesterday that the force has made around a further 50 fixed penalty notice referrals as part of its investigation into possible lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.

It brings the number of fines to more than 100 – with Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak hit with fixed penalty notices in April over a birthday party held for the British prime minister in No 10 in June 2020.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson had broken his own rules at “record-breaking scale”.

It comes as Labour leader 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 an office.

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.”

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 yesterday.

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 Mr Starmer’s promise to do so if he is handed a fixed penalty notice.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said its investigation into breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing street “remains live”.

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 in relation to allegations of law-breaking parties in government buildings while 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”.

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