Met Police Might Reveal Number of Government Staff Fined Over 'Partygate' Scandal

© AFP 2023 / DANIEL LEALA police officer walks past the door to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in London on January 25, 2022
A police officer walks past the door to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in London on January 25, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.02.2022
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson received a questionnaire from Scotland Yard last Friday and has seven days to respond to the document. The PM may face a no-confidence vote over the "partygate" row regarding an alleged series of lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street in 2020 and 2021.
The Metropolitan (Met) Police are expected to reveal the number of UK government officials who could be fined for attending twelve alleged Downing Street COVID rule-breaking parties between 2020 and 2021, The Telegraph reports.
The newspaper claims that while Scotland Yard will provide reasons for each of its decisions on the fixed penalty notices (FPNs), the identity of the government staff who will receive them will not be revealed.
About 50, and possibly up to 90, officials in Downing Street, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, received questionnaires from the Met Police last week in connection with the police probe into the purported parties. The latter was opened amid a separate investigation into the "partygate" scandal launched by senior civil servant Sue Gray.
According to a copy of the question and answer sheet sent to the government officials and seen by The Telegraph, these individuals rather than taxpayers will pay the possible fines.

"The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] approach during the pandemic has been to confirm the number of FPNs issued at particular events and to explain what those FPNs were issued for", the questionnaire cited by The Telegraph reads.

The Telegraph also reported that those government officials who face allegations of attending the Downing Street parties are expected to talk to their supervisors about whether they need time off to grapple with the situation.
Last Friday, a Number 10 spokesperson confirmed that Johnson had received a Met Police questionnaire, adding that the prime minister "will respond as required".
The statement came after Scotland Yard explained that the questionnaire "asks for an account and explanation of the recipient's participation in an event" and "has formal legal status and must be answered truthfully".

"Recipients are informed that responses are required within seven days. In most cases contact is being made via email. It should be noted that being contacted does not mean a fixed penalty notice will necessarily be issued to that person", the police added.

At the same time, the Met warned that "if following an investigation, officers believe it is appropriate because the COVID regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice will normally be issued".
Cressida Dick, for her part, said hours before she resigned last week as the Met Commissioner that "some, but probably not all, may very well end up with a fixed-penalty notice" over the questionnaires. The 61-year-old announced in a memo last Thursday that she had decided to step down after finding out that London Mayor Sadiq Khan "no longer has sufficient confidence" in her leadership.
Johnson has repeatedly insisted that he broke no rules, apologising, however, for attending a "bring your own booze" Downing Street garden party held on 20 May 2020. The PM is also believed to have been present at the alleged parties in June 2020 and January 2021. After the Sue Gray report, released earlier this month, highlighted "failures of leadership” and heavy alcohol consumption at Downing Street, the UK prime minister made it clear that he would "get on" with his job.
Also last week, the Daily Mail reported that a no-confidence vote to force Johnson out of office could happen within days despite lawmakers being away on recess. It takes 54 letters from Conservative MPs to trigger a vote of no confidence, and according to various UK media reports, the number of those MPs who have already sent letters of no confidence in the PM to the chair of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, varies from 20 to 40.
The nine Tory MPs who have publicly confirmed that they've submitted the letters include Gary Streeter, Anthony Mangnall, Tobias Ellwood, Peter Aldous, Andrew Bridgen, Douglas Ross, Roger Gale, Aaron Bell, and Nick Gibb.
If more than 50% of lawmakers want Johnson to remain during the possible vote of no confidence, he will be immune from another leadership challenge for another year.
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