Boris Johnson and guests would have faced £100 fines if police busted party, says top expert

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 (AP)
(AP)

Boris Johnson and at least some ten other people at a birthday party for him in No10 during lockdown would have been hit with £100 fines if police had busted the event, a leading expert claimed on Tuesday.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, of Doughty Street Chambers, suggested the June 2020 event was a “birthday party” and would have been regarded as a breach of the rules.

The Visiting Professor of Law at Goldsmiths, University of London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “At the time, you weren’t able to gather indoors in groups of two or more people unless you had some sort of explanation that was mentioned in the regulations.

“The only even slightly plausible one here is that the gathering was reasonably necessary for work.

“But I don’t think even the Government are saying that this was a work meeting.

“It was a pre-arranged birthday gathering in a particular room, with 30 people (disputed by No10), with cake, with food and the Prime Minister attended for ten minutes which is not in any way a reason why he would not have broken the regulations.

“So, if the police had come across a gathering like this, a pre-arranged gathering with food and birthday cake, there was obviously a birthday party, even if a short one, I think they would have handed out everybody £100 fixed penalty notices because people were committing criminal offences.

“I don’t think even No10 is giving an excuse which would have amounted to a defence in law.”

ITV News reported the Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, had organised the surprise get-together complete with a chorus of “happy birthday” on the afternoon of June 19 2020.

Interior designer Lulu Lytle admitted attending but insisted she was only present “briefly” while waiting to talk to Mr Johnson about the lavish refurbishments she was carrying out to the couple’s flat above No 11.

Environment Secretary George Eustice argued the event was not a party.

He said: “What really happened here is a small group of staff who had been working closely with the Prime Minister brought in a birthday cake at the end of the day and there was ten minutes there around sharing a piece of cake.

“I don’t think that really constitutes a party in the way some of the more serious allegations that are being investigated maybe do.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries also defending the Prime Minister, tweeting: “So, when people in an office buy a cake in the middle of the afternoon for someone else they are working in the office with and stop for ten minutes to sing happy birthday and then go back to their desks, this is now called a party?”

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