Thursday May 12, 2022

The police in London issue 50 more fines for parties at Downing Street.

Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, was not among those affected, his office said, though neither it, nor the police, named those who were.

London’s Metropolitan Police have identified more than 100 cases of lawbreaking in government offices including Downing Street.
Credit…Niklas Halle’N/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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  • May 12, 2022, 10:26 a.m. ET

LONDON — The police investigating lockdown breaking parties in Downing Street said Thursday they had issued 50 more fines, increasing pressure on Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, who had earlier been penalized for one breach.

Mr. Johnson was not among those affected by the latest announcement, his office said, though neither it, nor the police, named those who were or provided more details.

London’s Metropolitan Police have now identified more than 100 cases of lawbreaking in government offices including Downing Street — where Mr. Johnson lives and works — underscoring the scale of rule breaking in the place where Britain’s strict coronavirus laws were written.

The new fines, known as fixed penalty notices, are thought to relate in part for a pre-Christmas party in Downing Street in December 2020 at which the prime minister was not present, the BBC said. It was, however, the event about which an aide to Mr. Johnson, Allegra Stratton, was filmed joking about, leading to her resignation and the crisis that has become known as “partygate.”

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Mr. Johnson, his wife, Carrie Johnson, and the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, were all fined for attending a celebration for the prime minister’s birthday in Downing Street in June 2020. Although he has apologized, Mr. Johnson has rejected calls for him to resign.

At the time of the gatherings, many Britons had been making personal sacrifices and, in some cases, were banned from contact with dying relatives.

The Metropolitan Police are still investigating whether a total of 12 gatherings in Downing Street and other government buildings broke the law, and it remains probable that Mr. Johnson could receive at least one more fine.

Temporarily at least, some of the political heat on Mr. Johnson has dissipated after the police in Durham decided to reopen an investigation into whether the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, also broke lockdown rules by drinking a beer and eating a take out meal during a campaign visit last year.

Mr. Starmer insists that he broke no rules and, unlike Mr. Johnson has promised to resign if police fine him.

However, until that police investigation is completed and Mr. Starmer’s future is decided, that episode, inevitably nicknamed “beergate,” is likely to blunt Labour’s attacks on the prime minister over his breaking of lockdown rules.

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