Ministers have ‘moral duty’ to resign over partygate fines, says bereaved son

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Ministers have a “moral duty” to resign over partygate, says a bereaved son after the Metropolitan Police concluded its investigation with a total of 126 fines.

Andy Mitchell, 63, from Dunblane, Scotland, said only five people attended his mother’s funeral.

Ann Mitchell died on May 11 2020, aged 97, having tested positive for Covid-19.

Coronavirus – Tue Jan 11, 2022
Ann Mitchell died on May 11 2020, aged 97, having tested positive for Covid-19 (Family handout/PA)

Scotland Yard said on Thursday it had issued fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) to 83 people at events in Downing Street and across Whitehall spanning eight separate days.

“The Downing Street garden party was particularly poignant for me because that was the day I attended my mother’s funeral,” Mr Mitchell told the PA news agency.

“My family were unable to attend the funeral and there were a total of five people there because we stuck rigorously to the rules at the time and took every precaution.

“I was appalled at the initial news that there had been a party on the very same day, so I’m pleased to hear that the event has been the target of fines.

“I think people in government have a moral duty to set the tone at all times and to take responsibility for their actions where they have failed.”

No 10 said the Met Police had told Prime Minister Boris Johnson he would not receive a second fine.

Scotland Yard declined to identify anyone involved in the investigation but disclosed that it cost around £460,000.

Mr Mitchell described the number of FPNs issued as “pretty damning” and called for Mr Johnson to step down.

“The scale of the number of people, staff and politicians add up to a pretty damning indictment on the management of Downing Street at the time,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The Prime Minister and other ministers who have constantly denied any wrongdoing have a clear moral duty to step down from the posts they were elected to.

“I really hope that the people who have been fined, if that includes senior politicians, will act responsibly now that they’ve been found out and will resign from their positions.”

Relatives of victims respond to Cummings apology
Fran Hall’s husband Steve Mead died with Covid-19 three weeks after the couple married in 2020 (Fran Hall/PA)

Meanwhile, Fran Hall, whose husband Steve Mead died with Covid-19 three weeks after the couple married in 2020, told PA: “I am so, so tired of my pain and loss being continually made harder to bear by hearing about the callous disregard for what I and hundreds of thousands of other people have endured.

“It is beyond outrageous and yet the man in charge throughout remains in place, despite lying over and over again to Parliament and the country.

“Knowing Boris Johnson has also appointed himself the minister in charge of the public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic just fills me with despair at how far we have fallen from being a country where justice and honour mattered.

“We deserve so much better than this.”

Baroness Heather Hallett has been appointed by Mr Johnson to chair the inquiry.

Despite the reports of government employees breaching lockdown, Mr Mitchell said on reflection he still would not have broken the rules to visit his dying mother.

“I think the rules themselves as they were laid out had merit,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The fundamental point was that the lockdown was the correct thing to do and I wouldn’t have changed my own behaviour.

“We’ll never know how much these parties and gatherings at Downing Street contributed to the spread of the virus.

“I certainly hope these people regret their own decisions and are punished for it.”

Safiah Ngah, who lost her father Zahari Ngah, 68, to coronavirus in February 2021, said the fines are “nothing short of a terrible insult” to everyone who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

Speaking for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, Ms Ngah, from Islington, north London, said: “The nearly half a million pounds this investigation has cost could have been spent on support services for the bereaved.

“Instead it was spent investigating our own Government and all because they lied and failed to acknowledge they had broken the law.”

“Conservative MPs promised they would make their mind up about the Prime Minister when the Sue Gray report is released. There is no reason for that report to be delayed any longer.”

When asked about Mr Mitchell’s case, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s taken responsibility and he acknowledges people’s anger and hurt, and he’s offered an unreserved apology.

“But again, as I say, he will make a further statement once the Sue Gray report is published.”

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