Met Police May Issue First Set of Fines as Part of Its Probe Into COVID Rule-Busting No 10 Parties

© AP Photo / David CliffA police officer stands outside the door of 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022
A police officer stands outside the door of 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.03.2022
In late January, the Metropolitan Police announced a criminal probe into allegations of parties on Downing Street during COVID lockdowns between 2020 and 2021. The investigation came after Scotland Yard received evidence from a separate inquiry on the alleged parties conducted by senior civil servant Sue Gray.
London's Metropolitan Police (Met) is due to issue the first tranche of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to government officials as part of its probe into purported lockdown-breaking Downing Street parties, The Guardian has cited unnamed sources as saying.

The sources claimed that up to 20 fines for the most straightforward cases are expected to be issued "imminently", with more expected to follow after Scotland Yard reportedly concluded that COVID-related laws were broken during parties at Number 10 held between 2020 and 2021.

The claims come after the Met said last week that Scotland Yard detectives involved in the case had begun to interview people as witnesses, and that it would proceed with the investigation as "quickly as possible".

The Met additionally said that it had not yet made any referrals to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for the issuing of the FPNs, adding, "however, every questionnaire response is being assessed alongside all available evidence, and should this reach the evidential threshold, then referrals will be made".

Senior Tory MPs previously called on the Met to wrap up their "partygate" probe as soon as possible, which they said would allow Prime Minister Boris Johnson to focus on issues pertaining to London's response to the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, for his part, said that "if the PM has made his declaration, unless they've got evidence he's lied, they should clear him". Smith was apparently referring to the prime minister claiming in January that he thought a "bring your own booze" party at 10 Downing Street he attended was a "work event".

Met's 'Partygate' Probe

The Met probe has already seen more than 50 Downing Street insiders contacted over their alleged involvement in the "partygate" scandal after Scotland Yard sent legal questionnaires to individuals at Number 10 over their purported participation in alleged rule-busting events.
While Scotland Yard earlier stated that those individuals would not necessarily be slapped with fines, the Met added that if "officers believe it is appropriate because the COVID regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice will normally be issued".
The Scotland Yard investigation followed the publication in late February of the initial findings of senior civil servant Sue Gray's report on the "partygate" allegations. The document pointed out that there were "failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office" and that "some of the events should not have been allowed to take place".

Publishing her interim findings, Gray noted that she was unable to present a "meaningful report" into the purported parties due to the ongoing Met investigation.

The release of Gray's report saw Johnson apologising and reshuffling his senior staff, but making it clear that he intends to "get on" with his job.
In a separate development in February, UK media outlets claimed that more than 100 Conservative MPs will be ready to turn against Johnson if a no-confidence vote against him is triggered. It takes 54 letters of no confidence from Conservative MPs to trigger such a vote. Between 30 and 45 lawmakers are understood to have already sent letters to the chair of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
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