Police ‘looking into’ Sunak seatbelt slip-up on social media video

Lancashire Police are “looking into” Rishi Sunak after he failed wear a seatbelt as he filmed a social media clip in the back of a moving car.

The Prime Minister has apologised for the “mistake”, as Downing Street said that Mr Sunak had made a “brief error of judgment” by removing the safety device as he promoted his levelling-up funding in the Instagram video when he visited Lancashire on Thursday.

The offence can be punished with fines of up to £500.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police told the PA news agency: “We are aware of the matter and we will be looking into it.”

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and apologises”.

“The Prime Minister believes everyone should wear a seatbelt,” the spokesman said.

“It was an error of judgment, he removed it for a short period of time to film a clip, which you’ve seen, but he accepts that was a mistake.”

Mr Sunak was asked about failing to wear his seatbelt as he walked off from a broadcast interview in Hartlepool, but he declined to answer.

There are a few exemptions for failing to wear a belt, including when a car is being used for police, fire and rescue services and for certified medical issues.

But Downing Street did not believe there was an exception for travelling in a ministerial car.

In the video, police motorbikes can be seen escorting the car as Mr Sunak addresses the camera.

The Government has considered toughening seatbelt rules to ensure drivers not wearing them could receive penalty points.

Recent Department for Transport figures suggested around 30% of people killed in cars on Britain’s roads in 2021 were unrestrained.

Mr Sunak was also facing criticism for travelling to Blackpool in a taxpayer-funded RAF jet rather than using a train, and then taking a 28-minute flight to Darlington.

Labour said Mr Sunak’s video was adding to “endless painful viewing” after he was previously seen struggling to make a contactless payment with his card.

“Rishi Sunak doesn’t know how to manage a seatbelt, his debit card, a train service, the economy, this country,” a spokeswoman said.

“This list is growing every day, and it’s making for endless painful viewing.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “It seems like the PM is getting too used to flying around in private jets that he’s forgotten to wear a seatbelt in a car.

“The fact he’s breaking a basic law is just embarrassing and frankly dangerous.”

The AA warned of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt.

“No matter who you are, it is important to wear your seatbelt when in the car,” an AA spokesman said.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said “everyone should take seatbelt laws seriously – whoever and wherever they are”.

Mr Sunak was last year caught up in the “partygate” scandal, receiving a fine alongside Boris Johnson for attending a gathering to mark the then-PM’s 56th birthday.

A Liberal Democrat source said that Mr Sunak “might be a different Conservative prime minister, but he certainly has the same old disregard for the rules”.