Met Reportedly Issues Fines Over Number 10 Party Night Before Prince Philip's Funeral

© AFP 2023 / NIKLAS HALLE'NA light shines above the door of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London on January 31, 2022
A light shines above the door of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London on January 31, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.04.2022
The "partygate" scandal started in the UK last year, after multiple reports revealed that numerous social gatherings were held at the PM's offices in 2020 and 2021, despite tough COVID restrictions. Johnson himself admitted to attending at least one of the parties, but claimed he had not broken the rules and considered the events work-related.
London's Metropolitan Police (Met) have issued fines to those who partied in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral on 16 April 2021, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper reported that two Whitehall parties took place at the time, including one to mark the departure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Director of Communications James Slack, and another one for the PM's personal photographer.
During the alleged events, Downing Street staffers were said to have got so drunk that they broke the swing used by Johnson's son Wilfred in the Number 10 garden. On top of that, one of the staff members was reportedly sent to a local supermarket to bring a suitcase full of wine, while another acted as a DJ.

The Guardian noted that the parties "caused consternation" due to the contrast between them and UK Queen Elizabeth II's "strict adherence to social distancing rules by sitting alone at the funeral of her husband of 73 years".

At the time, England was under step two of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions stipulating that all indoor mixing was banned.
The Met, in turn, told those set to be fined over the 16 April 2021 Downing Street parties that it had been "assessed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that you committed an offence in contravention of the regulations".
"In light of this, you are to be reported for the issuance of a fixed penalty notice (FPN), offering you the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction for the offence by payment of a fixed penalty".

Lib Dem Politician Says PM 'Must Resign' Amid 'Partygate' Row

Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, for her part, told The Guardian that the report about fines being issued for the 16 April 2021 Whitehall events "confirms what the British public have known all along" – that Johnson was "a liar and must resign".

"The emotional images of the Queen sitting alone at her husband's funeral were the hallmark of the British spirit through the pandemic. Boris Johnson's Downing Street didn't show an ounce of respect for this country. There can be no more cover-ups and no more lies. For the good of the country, and for all those who lost loved ones during the pandemic, he must go", she said.

Cooper was referring to Johnson telling Labour leader Keir Starmer during prime minister's questions on 1 December 2021 that "all guidance was followed completely in No 10".
The Lib Dem deputy leader's remarks come after the first fines were issued by the Met last week as it is investigating COVID rule-busting parties on Downing Street held between 2020 and 2021. The £50 ($65) fines are reportedly related to a social gathering at the Cabinet Office on 18 June 2021. The names of the officials who received the FPNs haven't been disclosed.
A Met spokesperson has since told The Guardian that "unlike other incidents of COVID regulation breaches, the investigation under Operation Hillman remains ongoing, and as such we are not releasing further information at this time".

The spokesperson added that "at its [the probe's] conclusion", Scotland Yard "will review what information can be released whilst still working to the NPCC [National Police Chiefs’ Council] principle of not releasing information that will lead to any individual being identified".

The Met's probe followed the publication in late January 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".
The Met inquiry is dealing with 12 separate events, including six that Johnson is believed to have attended, such as a "bring your own booze" gathering in May 2020 and the PM's birthday celebrations in June 2020.
The PM, who is grappling with calls to step down over the "partygate" row, previously claimed that he had not broken the rules and considered the events as work-related. He also apologised and reshuffled his senior staff following the publication of Gray's initial findings, but made it clear that he intends to "get on" with his job.
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