Boris 'braced for second partygate fine' as police continue probe of 12 events

14 April 2022, 07:20

Boris Johnson is set to receive another fine, according to reports
Boris Johnson is set to receive another fine, according to reports. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Boris Johnson is reportedly braced to receive further fines for breaches of Covid laws.

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The beleaguered Prime Minister faces a fine for a leaving party in aide of former director of communications Lee Cain, The Telegraph reports.

Mr Johnson is understood to have been at the event for some time and even gave a speech at the party, which took place on November 13 2020, when the country was in a month-long lockdown.

Read more: Top Cabinet members rally round Boris as minister resigns over Partygate

Watch: Tory MP: Partygate fines 'a bit harsh' on Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak

Mr Johnson reportedly attended six of the 12 events under investigation by the Met.

Downing Street sources said they were awaiting the outcome of the ongoing inquiry.

Political parties have 'allowed a hooligan element' into UK politics

It comes after a justice minister resigned over the "repeated rule-breaking" in Downing Street.

Conservative peer David Wolfson said he had "no option" other than to quit because the scale and nature of the events determined by police to be breaches so far are "inconsistent with the rule of law".

The lord, who had been a justice minister since 2020, said in his resignation letter to Mr Johnson that he has come to the "inevitable conclusion that there was repeated rule-breaking, and breaches of the criminal law, in Downing Street".

He concluded that had no option but to resign considering "my ministerial and professional obligations to support and uphold the rule of law".

Read more: From Covid infection to the fine: Eddie Mair's painstaking timeline on partygate and Boris

Watch: Does the PM now have a criminal conviction? LBC's Daniel Barnett explains

The decision heaped pressure on Dominic Raab, whose Labour shadow Steve Reed pointed out as Justice Secretary is "constitutionally charged with upholding the law but is instead condoning law-breaking" by backing Mr Johnson.

Mr Raab described Lord Wolfson as a "world-class lawyer" whose "wisdom and intellect will be sorely missed" in Government.

Mr Johnson wrote to the peer saying he was "sorry to receive" the resignation, while praising his "years of legal experience".

Lord Wolfson has resigned, Eddie Mair reports

The fallout after Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted paying fines this week continued with further calls to quit.

Nigel Mills became the first Tory backbencher to publicly call for Mr Johnson to fall on his sword since the fines landed.

The MP for Amber Valley, in Derbyshire, said Mr Johnson's position was untenable, saying: "I think for a Prime Minister in office to be given a fine and accept it and pay it for breaking the laws that he introduced... is just an impossible position."

Read more: Boris and Rishi say sorry over Partygate fines but insist they won't quit

Watch: Caller got bigger fine than Boris and Rishi on way to see dying Dad

Craig Whittaker also said Mr Johnson should resign, along with Mr Sunak, who was also fined.

"To be very clear, my personal opinion is that he and the Chancellor both should resign because you can't set the laws and then break them as they have," he said to voters in a Facebook video.

But Mr Whittaker said he would not be submitting a letter to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, saying he expects the Prime Minister would win the vote which he argued would distract the Ukraine and cost-of-living crises.

Boris Johnson is under pressure to step down
Boris Johnson is under pressure to step down. Picture: Alamy

However, Mr Johnson's position was safe for the time being, with politicians away from Parliament for the Easter recess and numerous Tory critics arguing for immediate focus to be on the invasion of Ukraine.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart indicated the Prime Minister would not resign even if he was fined multiple times in the Metropolitan Police's Operation Hillman probe.

Mr Hart told Times Radio: "I don't necessarily see the difference between one or two (fines), for example, the principle is the same.

"I personally don't think that for people in public life - or any other walk of life, for that matter - that should necessarily be accompanied by another penalty, which is the removal of your job or similar."

Read more: 'Their positions are untenable': Caller says Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak 'must go'

Watch: 'Deeply offensive': tearful daughter of Covid victim calls for Johnson to go

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak - and the Prime Minister's wife Carrie, who was also fined over the party in the Cabinet Room - apologised on Tuesday and confirmed they had paid the fines.

Multiple Tory MPs and Cabinet ministers have expressed their backing for the Prime Minister, pointing to his support for Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin's invasion.

One who was publicly quiet over the scandal was Home Secretary Priti Patel, but a Home Office source said Mr Johnson has her "full support".

It was argued it was difficult for Home Office ministers to comment on ongoing police investigations.

From Covid infection to being fined: Eddie Mair's painstaking timeline on partygate and Boris

More than 50 fines have been referred to the Acro Criminal Records Office since the Met's inquiry started.

Speaking to broadcasters at his country residence, Chequers, on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said it "did not occur" to him at the time that the party for which he was fined might be breaching Covid rules.

Mr Sunak offered an "unreserved apology", saying he understood that "for figures in public office, the rules must be applied stringently in order to maintain public confidence".

A spokesperson for Mrs Johnson said: "Whilst she believed that she was acting in accordance with the rules at the time, Mrs Johnson accepts the Metropolitan Police's findings and apologises unreservedly."

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