London police issue more ‘partygate’ fines, now totaling over 100


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LONDON — Dozens of new fines have been issued as part of an investigation into covid-lockdown breaches by British government officials, London police said Thursday, bringing the total to more than 100 citations so far.

The Metropolitan Police said it had doubled the number of penalties after a review of a dozen boozy bashes during lockdown, a month after 50 fines were issued to participants including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife, Carrie, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. Johnson, who paid the fine, is the first British premier found to have broken the law while in office.

Downing Street confirmed that Johnson was not among those who received penalties this time. The identities of those fined were not released by police, but Downing Street had promised updates if Johnson were to receive another citation. “I don’t have any update,” said a spokesman. Asked whether that meant Johnson wasn’t fined, he said, “That’s correct.”

In its latest update on pandemic violations, the police offered this statement: “As of Thursday May 12, Operation Hillman, the investigation into breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street, has made more than 100 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office. These referrals have continued to be made throughout the period since our last update on Tuesday April 12 and the investigation remains live.”

“Partygate” has been trouble for the British government, which endured a drubbing in recent local elections in part because of the scandal. The police are continuing to investigate the 12 gatherings for breaches.

There is also an upcoming administrative report by civil servant Sue Gray, who previously has said the parties involved “failures of leadership and judgment.” Parliament has launched an additional inquiry into whether Johnson “knowingly misled” lawmakers about whether the gatherings violated the government’s lockdown rules.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has called on Johnson to resign over the scandal. The opposition leader now also faces an inquiry by police in the northeast of England after footage emerged of him drinking a beer at a gathering in the city of Durham in April 2021 — an incident inevitably dubbed “beergate” by the media.

Starmer said he had a beer and a takeaway curry meal during a break from work and no rules were broken. Drawing a contrast with Johnson, Starmer has promised to resign if he is fined and found to have broken lockdown rules.

Johnson rebuffed calls to resign after he was fined for attending a birthday party in his honor at Downing Street, allegedly organized by his wife.

In an interview last week, Johnson said that he was an “honest” politician who had “inadvertently” misled Parliament when he said that “the guidance and the rules” on parties at Downing Street “were followed at all times.”

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