Downing Street Refuses To Say Whether Staff With Partygate Police Fines Broke The Law
Downing Street has refused to endorse Justice Secretary Dominic Raab's view that government staff who receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) from the Metropolitan Police over parties in Whitehall and Downing Street during lockdown broke the law.
Raab, who is also deputy prime minister conceded those fined by the force for breaking lockdown rules in No 10 and Whitehall “breached the regulations” and should face “accountability”.
“We respected that the Met would be free to of course follow its investigation,” he told Sky News on Wednesday morning.
“The Prime Minister has already been clear, he’s taken responsibility for the things that shouldn’t have happened in Number 10,” he added.
“He’s apologised for it and more than that he’s overhauled Number 10 – that’s already happened".
However, Boris Johnson's spoksperson refused to endorse Raab's remarks when asked about them this afternoon, claiming that it would be wrong to make that statement while the Met was still investigating. This is despite the Met having already decided to issue 20 FPNS to people for breaking lockdown rulles.
“It remains a live investigation and it would not be right for me to give the Prime Minister's view in the midst of an ongoing police investigation," they said.
Johnson's press secretary said they would not "characterise" it as the Prime Minister disagreeing with Raab, but refused to say he agreed with the justice secretary's comments.
"The investigation is not complete and we want to wait until the investigation is complete before commenting further," they said.
On Tuesday morning the Met confirmed that 20 individuals involved in the partygate scandal will be receiving FPNs. The Met added that further fines could follow.
Downing Street confirmed that so far Johnson is not included among the recipients of FPNs. Number 10 has said if he, or cabinet secretary Simon Case are fined, the public will be informed.
However, staff working in Number 10 will not be asked to disclose whether they have been fined.
On Tuesday a Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister does not believe he misled MPs when he told the Commons in December that “all guidance was followed completely" in Number 10 during lockdown.
The spokesperson added that as such, Johnson does not currently plan to apologise for the statement.
Labour has accused the Prime Minister of misleading the House and lying to MPs.
“I don’t think there was an intention to mislead,” Raab told Times Radio this morning
“The Prime Minister in good faith updated parliament on what he knows,” the deputy prime minister explained.
“Of course, precisely because there were questions around this, the Sue Gray inquiry was set up, and precisely because it was right and proper to enable the Met to conduct the investigation that has taken place.”
On Tuesday Downing Street confirmed the public will "hear more from the Prime Minister" once the Met concludes its investigation, and the final version of Gray's report is complete.
“We accept that those things wouldn’t have happened if there weren’t legitimate questions that have been made,” Raab said.
Speaking on GB News this morning, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting accused Johnson of having “lied regularly and repeatedly to Parliament, to the country and to the queen”.
Streeting added that the public “shouldn’t be casual or dismissive” of the matter, despite other “lots of other important things going on”, such as the war in Ukraine.
“The fact is that there was law breaking in Number 10 during the pandemic,” the shadow health secretary said.
“To add insult to injury the Prime Minister lied about it and that is a basic sacking offence.”
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