Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak receive lockdown fines
This afternoon Downing Street officials confirmed that the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will be fined by the police for breaking coronavirus rules, while Mr Johnson’s wife, Carrie Johnson, will also be given a fixed penalty notice. The three fines were issued by the Metropolitan Police following an investigation into illegal parties in Downing Street during the country’s Covid lockdowns. Spokespeople for the Prime Minister and Mr Sunak stressed they had not received information on which event the fines were linked to.
The Met is investigating alleged Covid rule breaking at 12 gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall, and so far more than 50 fines have been handed out.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer renewed calls for both Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson to resign this afternoon, and said the fines showed the Conservatives were “totally unfit to govern”.
Meanwhile, Lobby Akinnola, a spokesperson for the Covid Bereaved Families said it was “unbelievably painful” to know that the most senior members of government attended lockdown parties.
He added: “They broke the law, but even worse, they took us all for mugs”.
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Boris Johnson has been fined over Downing Street parties
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Mr Johnson claimed on nine separate occasions that he did not break lockdown rules, after reports of lockdown Downing Street parties broke in late November last year.
On December 1, 2021, after the Mirror reported a Downing Street Christmas party had taken place a year earlier while coronavirus rules were in place, Mr Johnson told Sir Keir in the House of Commons: “All guidance was followed completely in Number 10.
“May I recommend that he does the same with his own Christmas party, which is advertised for December 15?”
The Labour leader’s Christmas party was scheduled for December 2021, though it was duly cancelled due to a surge in Omicron cases.
A number of allegations emerged of Downing Street parties during lockdown
At the time, Mr Johnson added that Sir Keir “drivels on irrelevantly about wallpaper and parties, playing politics”.
Then on December 7, when asked whether a Christmas party had taken place Mr Johnson reiterated to reporters: “What I can tell you is all guidelines were observed, continue to be observed and we’re getting on with the job, as we have been throughout, of dealing with the priorities of the people.”
He added: “The guidelines were followed at all times. I’ve satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”
Later that day, as ITV published footage of Number 10 staffers joking about a Christmas Party, Mr Johnson’s Downing Street Spokesperson told the broadcaster: “There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.”
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Carrie Johnson has also been fined by the Met
On December 8, after the clip of his staff making Christmas party jokes went viral, Mr Johnson said he was “sickened and furious about that.”
He continued: “I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.
“That is what I have been repeatedly assured. But I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to establish all the facts and to report back as soon as possible.”
Later that day, the Prime Minister was asked at a Number 10 press conference if he would extend an inquiry to cover any gatherings, events or parties that took place while Covid laws were implemented.
Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019
Mr Johnson replied: “All the evidence I can see is that people in this building have stayed within the rules.
“If that turns out not to be the case, and people wish to bring allegations to my attention or to the police or whoever, then of course there will be proper sanctions.”
Again, on December 8 Mr Johnson was asked whether a second party on November 27 2020 had taken place, to which the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary responded: “I would just repeat again that all Covid rules have been followed.”
Then, on December 13, after reports claimed that Mr Johnson had hosted a virtual Christmas quiz in 2020 with two staff by his side, the Prime Minister was even more direct in his denial.
He said: “I can tell you once again that I certainly broke no rules. All that is being looked into.
“But if I may respectfully say to you, of course, all that must be properly gone into ‒ you’ll be hearing from the Cabinet Secretary about it all.”
Two days later, at a Number 10 press conference, Mr Johnson again stressed his own behaviour had been within the rules.
He said: “On your point about rules, I follow the rules. Everybody across politics should follow the rules.”
Finally, on December 20, Mr Johnson defended himself and his staffers once more after an image emerged of a separate Number 10 garden party that took place on May 15 2020, with more than a dozen attendees.
The Prime Minister said: “Those were people at work, talking about work. I have said what I have to say about that.”