Stanley Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn apologise after both pictured breaking coronavirus rules

Telegraph reporters
·3-min read
Stanley Johnson was seen in a shop without a mask -  KGC-592
Stanley Johnson was seen in a shop without a mask - KGC-592
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

Stanley Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have apologised after being pictured breaking coronavirus rules, as a Cabinet minister said police would take "appropriate action".

The Prime Minister's father was pictured in a shop without a face mask, while former Labour leader Mr Corbyn attended a dinner party with eight other people, breaking the "rule of six".

Both have apologised, with Mr Johnson senior saying he was not "100 per cent up to speed" with current rules because he had just returned to England after three weeks abroad. Both breaches carry a possible penalty of £200.

Stanley Johnson has apologised  -  KGC-592
Stanley Johnson has apologised - KGC-592

Speaking on Thursday morning, George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said: "We have the 'rule of six' and there are fines that can be put in place, but police will apply this in a proportionate way.

"The police will look at this and take a proportionate approach. We have introduced these things with fines, including face masks on public transport... in most cases what you will get is guidance, a warning or direction to change your approach."

He told Sky News: "The 'rule of six' is being enforced and should be enforced, yes. But that doesn't mean there should be a penalty in every case."

Mr Eustice suggested that if it was clear it was "not a wilful" breach of the law, action should not be taken.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "As a matter of course the MPS is not investigating COVID related issues retrospectively. Where we become aware of a breach occurring, officers will seek to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules, only enforcing as a last resort.

"Where alleged breaches are brought to our attention after the event, officers will not have not had the opportunity to engage, explain or encourage, and those involved will not have not had the opportunity to respond positively to that process – as most people do.

"Therefore, it would not be appropriate or an effective use of resources in most circumstances to investigate or pursue enforcement. We encourage everyone to make themselves aware of, and to follow, the rules."

During his Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, Boris Johnson implored the public to follow coronavirus guidelines (see video below). He said: "Bear in mind that the fines are now very considerable and they will be imposed."

Face coverings have been compulsory in shops and on public transport since July 24, and last week the Government guidance was extended to hospitality venues, theatres, restaurants, bars and pubs unless people need to remove them to eat or drink.

It is not the first time the Prime Minister's father has made headlines. In July, he defended his decision to travel to Greece in an apparent breach of Foreign Office guidance to avoid non-essential travel.

He admitted breaking lockdown rules when he went out to buy a newspaper after his grandchild was born in April, saying he was "not sure it's an essential journey", and also indicated in March that he would ignore the Government's advice and go to the pub.

Meanwhile, in August Piers Corbyn, the Labour MP's brother, was fined £10,000 after attending an anti-lockdown rally in defiance of rules on large gatherings.