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Boris Johnson And Rishi Sunak Have Apologised After Receiving "Partygate" Police Fine

Boris Johnson And Rishi Sunak Have Apologised After Receiving 'Partygate' Police Fine

(Alamy)

6 min read

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have all issued apologies and confirmed they had paid the Fixed Penalty Notices issued to them over breaches of Covid-19 rules.

On Tuesday the Met Police announced that a total of 50 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have now been issued relating to events in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown. 

In a televised statement, Johnson said he had already paid the fixed-penalty notice as he said he planned to "get on" with his job.

"Today I have received a fixed-penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police relating to an event in Downing Street on the 19 June 2020. Let me say immediately that I have paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology," he said.

Johnson said he attended the meeting for 10 minutes to accept well wishes from staff on his birthday.

"There was a brief gathering in the cabinet room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes during which people I worked with kindly passed on their good wishes. I have to say in all frankness at that time, it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules," he said.

"But of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation. I understand the anger that many will feel that I myself fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the government I lead had introduced to protect the public, and I accept in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better."

He added: "Now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people."

Sunak has also issued an apology, saying he "regrets frustration and anger caused" and has paid the FPN issued to him. 

In a statement issued this evening, he said he understands “that for figures in public office the rules must be applied stringently in order to maintain public confidence”.

"I respect the decision that has been made and have paid the fine. I know people sacrificed a great deal during Covid, and they will find this situation upsetting. I deeply regret the frustration and anger caused and I am sorry," the Chancellor said.

"Like the prime minister, I am focused on delivering for the British people at this challenging time."

A spokesperson for Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister's wife, said: "Mrs Johnson has paid a fixed penalty notice relating to a gathering on the afternoon of June 19 2020.

"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.”

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that both Johnson and Sunak were among the latest batch of FPNs. They later confirmed that Johnson's fine was in relation to a party that took place on 19 June. It is believed the event in the Cabinet Room was to celebrate his birthday. 

"The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices,” the spokesperson said.

“We have no further details, but we will update you again when we do.”

In a later statement Downing Street said: “The Met Police have now explained that the FPN issued to the PM will be in relation to the following incident: On 19th June 2020 at the Cabinet Room 10 Downing Street between 1400 and 1500 you participated in a gathering of two or more people indoors in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for both Johnson and Sunak to resign following the news.

"Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public," he said in a statement.

"They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better."

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said the latest announcement showed there was "criminality and lies at the heart of government" which was "led by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor".

"Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak must resign now for breaking the laws they enforced on us all," he added.

The Met Police confirmed in January that it would be investigating a total of 12 gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall alleged to have broken Covid rules.

In its latest update, the force confirmed it had now made more than 50 referrals to the ACRO Criminal Records Office responsible for dishing out the FPNs to individuals.

Last month the police issued 20 initial fines related to lockdown-breaching events held in Downing Street.

The first group of fines were linked to two events which reportedly took place in Whitehall on the evening of 16 April, the night before the funeral of Prince Philip.

Speaking after the last fines were issued, Johnson refused to accept lockdown laws had been broken, but said he apologised for the events.

"I have been several times to the House to talk about this and to explain and to apologise and to set out the things that we are doing to change the way things run in Number 10," he said. 

"But what I also said repeatedly... I won't give a running commentary on an investigation that is under way."

Rishi Sunak has also previously denied attending lockdown breaching events, claiming in the Commons in December 2021 that he "did not attend any parties".

Numerous Tory MPs have previously told PoliticsHome that they would feel compelled to submit no confidence letters in the Prime Minister should he be issued with an FPN over lockdown breaches.

"His rhetoric is of someone who intends to tough it out, but if he’s found to have been in breach of his own law, he would be in a very difficult position,” one former secretary of state said in February.

MPs have also previously called for advisers and civil servants hit with fines to be sacked by Boris Johnson

"Getting an FPN for breaking Covid rules that they effectively set should be a resignation matter for the special advisers or senior civil servants concerned.

“If they do not resign, the Prime Minister should sack them."

Two cabinet ministers also told The Times earlier this year that they would withdraw support in the Prime Minister if he was issued with an FPN.

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