Watch: More than 50 fines issued over partygate probe, Scotland Yard says
The families of COVID victims have called on Boris Johnson to resign after the Met confirmed at least 30 more fines were being issued. over COVID-19 rule-breaking parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall.
Detectives are investigating 12 events, including as many as six prime minister Boris Johnson is said to have attended.
On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police confirmed officers have now made more than 50 referrals in total for fixed penalty notices to the ACRO Criminal Records Office.
Following the annoucement, bereaved families said it is “indisputable” that widespread rule breaking occurred.
Calling on the prime minister to resign, Matt Fowler, co-founder of COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: “There you have it – it’s now indisputable that whilst bereaved families were unable to be at their loved ones’ sides in their last moments, or stood at their funerals alone, the people responsible for protecting us in Downing St were partying and rule breaking en masse.
“It’s a reality that is unbelievably painful for bereaved families like mine to face as we try and move forward with our lives.
“It’s plain as day that there was a culture of boozing and rule breaching at the highest level of Government, whilst the British public was making unimaginable sacrifices to protect their loved ones and communities.”
The identities of people issued with FPNs have not been disclosed publicly by the Met, nor the event a fine relates to.
However, Downing Street has said it will confirm if either Boris Johnson or Cabinet Secretary Simon Case are handed a fine.
A former senior official last week became the first person to confirm they had received an FPN as a result of the Partygate investigation.
Former deputy cabinet secretary and Whitehall ethics chief Helen MacNamara said she was “sorry for the error of judgment I have shown”.
MacNamara, who now works for the Premier League, was reported to have received the fine in connection with a leaving do held in the Cabinet Office on 18 June 2020.
Separately, The Guardian has reported that other people had been fined for a gathering held on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.
Scotland Yard announced on 29 March that they were issuing 20 fines.
The force said it was “making every effort to progress this investigation at speed”, with the possibility of more fines to come.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “The investigation into allegations of breaches of COVID-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street continues to progress.
“As of Tuesday, 12 April 2022, we have made over 50 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for breaches of Covid-19 regulations who, following the referral, issue the FPNs to the individual.
“We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed, this includes continuing to assess significant amounts of investigative material from which further referrals may be made to ACRO.”
Following the news more fines were being issued, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the announcement of at least 30 more fines relating to the partygate saga has “blown the Prime Minister’s defence out of the water”.
Speaking during a campaign visit in Glasgow on Tuesday, Sir Keir said: “He claimed to the country that all the rules were being obeyed in Downing Street – where he lives and where he works – that there had been no parties.
“It’s now clear there was widespread criminality.
Watch: Question Time audience mocks Tory MP over Boris Johnson Partygate claim
“I think this just not only blows his defence but calls into question his honesty and his integrity.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey once again called for Johnson to resign.
He said: “These fines expose the shocking scale of the criminality in Boris Johnson’s Number 10.
“The police have now completely shredded Johnson’s claims that no laws were broken. He cannot be trusted and cannot continue as Prime Minister.
“No other leader in any other organisation would be allowed to continue after law-breaking on this scale.
“If Boris Johnson won’t resign, Conservative MPs must show him the door.”
In a statement to a packed but silent House of Commons in January, Johnson apologised for going to an event that invited people to "bring their own booze" to make the "most of the lovely weather".
He said he believed it had been a “work event”.
Watch: Boris Johnson admits he went to No10 party during lockdown
It was also reported a leaving party for the prime minister's former communications secretary James Slack was held, and became so raucous that a swing belonging to the PM's son Wilf was broken, and staff used a suitcase to smuggle alcohol into the building.
Johnson came under intense pressure to quit as a result of the Partygate scandal, but in recent weeks the war in Ukraine has seen MPs rally round the leader at a time of international crisis.
But the Met’s intervention, confirming that laws were broken at the heart of government, could reignite the debate about his leadership.
The Metropolitan Police said more than 100 questionnaires had been sent out to people at the gatherings.