The Metropolitan police have concluded their investigation into a series of COVID lockdown breaching parties that occurred at No. 10.
A total of 126 fixed penalty notices were issued over the course of the investigation, applying to 8 of the 16 investigated events.
Neither Boris Johnson nor his wife, Carrie Johnson, have been issued a second fine, avoiding what may have been a fatal blow for johnson’s premiership.
A total of 28 people ended up receiving multiple fines, with some reportedly receiving many as 5.
COVID breach laws allowed police to double the cost of each subsequent fine issued to an individual, but the police decided not to do so due to the ‘historic’ nature of the offences.
Some commenters, including legal experts, have raised queries about the consistency with which fines were issued, with junior aides and ministers seemingly receiving fines at events which senior ministers – including the prime minister – attended but were not fined for.
When questioning their reasons for coming to their decision on who to fine, the Metropolitan Police declined to comment.
Sue Gray’s report is now expected to be released in full next week, although it is at this point unlikely that Gray’s report will have any more impact than the Met’s investigation. It is expected that the absence of a second fine will significantly decrease the change of a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said he was glad the investigation was over and urged opposition politicians to move on to topics which are “really important”:
But Johnson isn’t out of the woods yet.
The Prime Minister will now be investigated by a parliamentary committee to determine whether or not he knowingly misled parliament when he said he believed the gatherings conformed to COVID regulations. It is understood, as part of the ministerial code, that any minister that lies to parliament should resign – therefore if the committee finds that Johnson did mislead parliament he will almost certainly go, but nothing is certain with Johnson, as many MPs, bookies, and political commentators were certain he would already be gone by this point.
Labour will be doing their utmost to show that the Prime Minister lied, with some thinking that might not be too difficult. Shadow Attourney General Emily Thornberry said:
“Based on the 126 fines from the parties as at No 10, just looking at the sheer scale of law breaking which has been laid bare by the police, what we know now, for absolute certainty, is that when Boris Johnson came to the House of Commons and said there were no parties in Downing Street and no rules have been broken, that that was a barefaced lie. There is no possible way in which he can claim that he was unaware that these parties that he was attending didn’t break the rules here.”
“And for that – we think it’s an extremely important point, always been the most important point – he should resign.”