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Met Police Concludes Downing Street Investigation Having Issued 126 Fines

Met Police Concludes Downing Street Investigation Having Issued 126 Fines

(Alamy)

3 min read

The Met Police has announced that it has concluded its investigation into breaches of Covid regulations at Downing Street and Whitehall, and has issued 126 fines in total.

The force said that the Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) relate to eight events, and were issued to 73 women and 53 men, with some receiving multiple fines.

The identities of those issued with FPNs have not been revealed by the Met, but the full total is understood to include one fine each issued to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Number 10 has confirmed that Johnson has been told that both he and his wife will not be issued any further fines as part of the investigation. They were unable to confirm whether Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who attended one of the gatherings, will receive a fine.

FPN decisions by the Met are referred to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for enforcement, and there can be a delay in them being formally issued.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the conclusion of the investigation showed evidence of "industrial-scale law breaking in Downing Street", and that the total of 126 fines issued "reflects a culture and the Prime Minister sets the culture".

"What I want to see now is the full Sue Gray report published, there's no further hiding places for the prime minister on that," he told Sky News.

The prime minister's spokesperson previously confirmed that further details of Sue Gray's investigation into allegations of parties would be published once the Met investigation concludes.

It is expected that Gray will now publish her full report next week before parilament rises for recess on Thursday.

"Sue Gray will complete her work and then hand that over and then we will publish that as soon as possible," the PM's spokesperson said. 

"That has not happened yet. So, in effect, timings are a matter for her still in terms of when she completes the report."

"We recognise the significant public interest and obviously we'll do everything in our power once it is completed to get it out in good time as we did for the interim report."

Events covered by the fines referred by the Met include the “bring your own booze” Downing Street garden party on 20 May 2020, a gathering held to celebrate Boris Johnson's birthday, and another gathering held on 13 November to mark a staff departure.

People have also been fined over a Christmas party held at Downing Street on 18 December 2020 and a Cabinet Office drinks event the previous day.

Fines were issued for two other events held on 14 January 2021 and 16 April 2021.

“When Covid regulations were introduced, the Met was clear that whilst we would not routinely investigate breaches of regulations retrospectively, there may be occasions when it would be appropriate to do so,” the Met’s acting deputy commissioner Helen Ball said.

“The information that we received with regard to the alleged breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall was sufficient to reach our criteria to begin such an investigation.

“Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed and the importance of ensuring that we had strong evidence for each FPN referral." 

Ball confirmed that the investigation had concluded. The Met has stated that the investigation — dubbed Operation Hillman — comprised 12 full time officers and cost approximately £460,000 to operate.


 

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