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Boris Johnson is to be fined for breaking the law by attending an illegal Partygate event along with his wife Carrie during the Covid pandemic, No10 confirmed today.
The couple, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are among a tranche of 30 more fixed penalty notices dished out by Scotland Yard today to people who broke lockdown rules.
It means Mr Johnson is the first serving Prime Minister to be penalised for breaking the law while in Downing Street, for events that took place when millions of ordinary Britons were obeying restrictive Covid rules for the good of the country.
The news will place huge pressure on the PM, who has faced calls from opponents and within his own party to resign if sanctioned. He has resisted giving a definite answer.
Questions will also be raised over his honesty towards MPs. Last year he told the Commons that ‘all guidance was followed completely in No 10’. Mr Sunak, last December, also told MPs he did not attend any parties.
The Metropolitan Police did not disclose if Boris Johnson was among those to be sanctioned with a £50 fine. Downing Street initially indicated that he was not.
But this afternoon a No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices. We have no further details, but we will update you again when we do.’
The statement did not mention Carrie Johnson. But her spokeswoman later said: ‘In the interests of transparency, Mrs Johnson can confirm she has been notified that she will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice. She has not yet received any further details about the nature of the FPN.’
It is not known which event the trio were censured for, but they all attended a party organised by Carrie for Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday in June 2020.
The Prime Minister, who is at his Chequers country retreat, has yet to publicly acknowledge that the fines being issued by the police are evidence of law-breaking by senior figures in his Government and Whitehall.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded both the PM and Chancellor quit, saying: ‘Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign.’
And the Lib Dems demanded Parliament be recalled from its Easter recess.
But Tory MPs who previously called for him to quit were suggesting he could cling on to power.
The Metropolitan Police did not disclose if Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured in Kyiv at the weekend) was among those to be sanctioned.
Scotland Yard said it had referred a half-century of cases to the ACRO Criminal Records Office ‘for breaches of Covid-19 regulations’ in 2020 and 2021.
Sir Roger Gale: ‘It’s serious of course. My position remains that the fact that the Prime Minister has effectively misled the House of Commons is a very serious issue indeed, but we are in the middle of an international crisis and I am not prepared to give Vladimir Putin the comfort of thinking that we are about to unseat the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and destabilise the coalition against Putin.
‘So any reaction to this is going to have to wait until we have dealt with the main crisis which is Ukraine and the Donbas.’
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Boris Johnson must resign. He broke the law and repeatedly lied to parliament about it. The basic values of integrity and decency – essential to the proper working of any parliamentary democracy – demand that he go. And he should take his out of touch chancellor with him.’
Scotland Yard said it had referred a further 30 FPNs on top of the 20 it had already revealed to the ACRO Criminal Records Office ‘for breaches of Covid-19 regulations’ in 2020 and 2021.
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: ‘These fines expose the shocking scale of the criminality in Boris Johnson’s Number 10.
‘The police have now completely shredded Johnson’s claims that no laws were broken. He cannot be trusted and cannot continue as Prime Minister.
‘No other leader in any other organisation would be allowed to continue after law-breaking on this scale. If Boris Johnson won’t resign, Conservative MPs must show him the door.’
Representatives of bereaved families said it is ‘indisputable’ that widespread rule-breaking occurred.
Calling on the Prime Minister to resign, Matt Fowler, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: ‘There you have it – it’s now indisputable that whilst bereaved families were unable to be at their loved ones’ sides in their last moments, or stood at their funerals alone, the people responsible for protecting us in Downing St were partying and rule breaking en masse.
‘It’s a reality that is unbelievably painful for bereaved families like mine to face as we try and move forward with our lives.
‘It’s plain as day that there was a culture of boozing and rule breaching at the highest level of Government, whilst the British public was making unimaginable sacrifices to protect their loved ones and communities.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the announcement of at least 30 more fines relating to the partygate saga has ‘blown the Prime Minister’s defence out of the water’.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: ‘The investigation into allegations of breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street continues to progress.
‘As of Tuesday, 12 April 2022, we have made over 50 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for breaches of Covid-19 regulations who, following the referral, issue the FPNs to the individual.
‘We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed, this includes continuing to assess significant amounts of investigative material from which further referrals may be made to ACRO.’
Mr Johnson has continually stonewalled over whether the issuing of the FPNs means the law was broken by people within his administration, saying he wants to wait until the Operation Hillman probe is completed before commenting.
But his own ministers have been less circumspect in recent weeks, with Cabinet members among those who have publicly accepted there was illegality in No10.