London woman fined £12k for hosting birthday bash day after No10 partied

14 January 2022, 23:49

Police enforcing Covid rules in 2021.
Police enforcing Covid rules in 2021. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A London woman was fined £12,000 for throwing a lockdown-busting birthday bash last year, just hours after two parties were held in Downing Street.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Vianna McKenzie-Bramble, 28, was fined for throwing herself a 27th birthday bash, with about 40 people and a bouncy castle, in Hackney, east London, on April 17 2021.

She is among thousands of people who have been taken to court for breaching rules imposed by the Government to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Her party was the same day as Prince Philip's funeral, where the Queen was forced to mourn her husband's death alone due to social distancing riles at the time.

In line with Covid restrictions the Queen wore a face mask and stayed two-metres away from her family at Windsor.

In a witness statement, police rebuked Ms McKenzie-Bramble for holding the party while the country was in a period of mourning after Philip's death.

It has now emerged that on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, advisers and civil servants gathered at No10 for two separate parties.

Boris Johnson has since apologised to the Queen and Buckingham Palace for the parties, with his deputy spokesman said it was a "deeply regrettable" decision.

His former director of communications, James Slack, has also apologised for the "anger and hurt" one of them - a leaving do held for him - had caused.

He was leaving No10 to become deputy editor at The Sun newspaper, and a "boozy" gathering was held for his send-off.

At the time, Government guidance said: "You must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble. You can meet outdoors, including in gardens, in groups of six people or two households."

Officers showed up at Ms McKenzie-Bramble's party after members of the public complained about a big Covid-rule-breaking party, according to the witness statement.

Police found a marquee and a bouncy castle had been set up in the estate's communal garden, where groups of people, "none of whom were wearing masks or social distancing", were "gathering in groups much larger than six".

In the witness statement, Police Constable Lindsey England said: "I explained to Vianna that there needed to be consequences for her actions, namely organising such a large gathering during a time where there is still such a significant risk to public health.

"On this day in particular it was the funeral of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

"The country is in mourning and only limited members of his close family were able to attend the ceremony.

"Vianna being so blase about organising such a large and illegal event for her 27th birthday party is totally unacceptable and disrespectful in light of everything that is going on in the world."

Ms McKenzie-Bramble was ordered to pay a £12,000 fine within 28 days, as well as a £190 victims' fund surcharge and £110 in court costs, at a closed courtroom hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on September 29 2021.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has said any investigation into Downing Street parties by them would depend on evidence uncovered by the Cabinet Office inquiry, which is being led by Sue Gray.

Sue Gray is understood to have not been present at any of the parties under investigation.

Her findings could be revealed as early as next week.