UK police to issue first 20 ‘Partygate’ fines – Newspaper

LONDON: British police announced on Tuesday they would issue an initial 20 fines, after investigating alleged breaches of Covid-19 lockdown laws by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his staff in Downing Street.

London’s Metropolitan Police said they would not release the number or identity of those fined, but Johnson’s spokesman confirmed the British leader was not among those affected in the first wave of sanctions.

The news nonetheless reignites the so-called “Partygate” scandal, which left Johnson fighting for his political survival after a number of lawmakers from his ruling Conservatives withdrew support for his leadership.

Opposition politicians were quick to reiterate their calls for his resignation after the Met’s announcement on Tuesday.

“We will today begin returning 20 fixed penalty notices to be issued for breaches of Covid-19 regulations,” the Met said in a statement, adding that its investigation was continuing.

Johnson is not among those affected by the first wave of sanctions

“We are doing everything we can to move this investigation forward quickly and have completed a number of assessments,” he added.

Because there was still a “significant amount” of evidence to assess, they did not rule out other measures.

The London force is investigating allegations that Johnson and his Downing Street officials staged and attended at least a dozen alcohol-fueled events in 2020 and 2021 that breached Britain’s then-tight virus restrictions.

Johnson has already apologized for the holidays, which included Christmas celebrations and a gathering for drinks the day before Prince Philip’s funeral.

The Prime Minister, who initially denied that any rule-breaking events had taken place at the complex where he lives and works, has always dismissed personal wrongdoing.

But the 57-year-old faces a fine unless he can adequately explain why he appeared to attend some social gatherings despite his government telling the public they were illegal.

His office confirmed last month that Johnson submitted his response to a police questionnaire on the matter, but sources said he was not interviewed in person by investigators.

His spokesman reiterated on Tuesday that he would disclose any significant developments in the prime minister’s investigation.

The ‘Partygate’ revelations and a steady stream of other scandals dating back to late 2021 had left Johnson’s position as prime minister hanging by a thread earlier this year.

The mood of some of his own MPs grew increasingly mischievous and his position was weaker than at any time since he became Prime Minister in 2019 on a wave of support for his populist Brexit agenda .

Posted in Dawn, March 30, 2022