Met hands out 20 fines for lockdown-breaking Downing St parties but names will stay secret

29 March 2022, 09:24 | Updated: 29 March 2022, 12:48

The Met Police has confirmed it will be handing out 20 fines initially for lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street and Whitehall.
The Met Police has confirmed it will be handing out 20 fines initially for lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street and Whitehall. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they will issue an initial 20 fines over lockdown-busting parties at Downing Street and Whitehall.

Scotland Yard has been investigating 12 gatherings which took place at Downing Street and Whitehall, including some Boris Johnson is said to have attended.

The force has confirmed it will be making 20 initial referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office - which issues the FPNs.

But Scotland Yard won't be sharing who will be slapped with a fine.

Downing Street has denied that Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons when he told MPs that the Covid regulations had not been broken in No10.

"At all times he has set out his understanding of events," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

Asked if Mr Johnson would apologise now police had concluded the law had been broken, the spokesman said he would have more to say when the investigation was concluded.

"The Prime Minister has apologised to the House already," the spokesman said.

"He has said sorry for the things that we did not get right. He has said sorry for the ways things have been handled and that mistakes have been made.

"You can expect to hear more from the Prime Minister when the investigation is concluded and Sue Gray has set out her report."

Boris Johnson has previously said he would reveal if he'd been fined by the police, while Labour says he should resign if that's the case.

Questions are being raised over the Met's decision not to identify anyone despite repeatedly naming and shaming people over lockdown rule breaches throughout the pandemic.

The force said it will not confirm the number of referrals made from each individual event it is investigating as providing this breakdown at this point could lead to the individuals involved being identified.

It also added more referrals may be made in the future.

Read more: PM 'confident' he did not break the law over Partygate, minister tells LBC

Read more: Met police need to find 'speedy resolution' to Partygate scandal, minister tells LBC

In a statement, Scotland Yard said: "The investigation into allegations of breaches of COVID-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street has now progressed to the point where the first referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) will be made to ACRO Criminal Records Office.

"We will today initially begin to refer 20 fixed penalty notices to be issued for breaches of Covid-19 regulations. The ACRO Criminal Records Office will then be responsible for issuing the FPNs to the individual following the referrals from the MPS.

"We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed and have completed a number of assessments. However due to the significant amount of investigative material that remains to be assessed, further referrals may be made to ACRO if the evidential threshold is made."

Read more: Boris will be outed if fined for breaching Covid rules, Downing Street says

The Partygate saga saw continuous revelations of Covid rule-breaking events held across Downing Street and Whitehall.

The Prime Minister is accused of attending six of the 12 events in question. All are said to have taken place between May and December 2020, as England was under the first lockdown and later a variety of restrictions.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Partygate saga had been a "slap in the face" for the public.

Ms Rayner said: "After over two months of police time, 12 parties investigated and over a hundred people questioned under caution, Boris Johnson's Downing Street has been found guilty of breaking the law.

"The culture is set from the very top. The buck stops with the Prime Minister, who spent months lying to the British public, which is why he has got to go.

"It is disgraceful that while the rest of the country followed their rules, Boris Johnson's Government acted like they did not apply to them.

"This has been a slap in the face of the millions of people who made huge sacrifices."

Meanwhile, Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting tweeted: "Fines issued by the Police for parties in Downing Street that broke the lockdown rules.

"According to Boris Johnson these were the parties that never happened. He's a proven liar and lied repeatedly to the House of Commons and the country."

The gatherings under investigation include a "bring your own booze" event, details of which were emailed to staff at No 10 by the Prime Minister's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds in May 2020, and a surprise get-together for Mr Johnson's birthday in June 2020.

Mr Johnson previously admitted he was at the former for 25 minutes - claiming he believed it was a work event - while Downing Street said staff "gathered briefly" in the Cabinet Room to mark the Prime Minister's 56th birthday.

In January, civil servant Ms Gray published a report into the saga, which said there were "failures of leadership and judgment" in parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.