Sunak under fire after being handed second police fine

Rishi Sunak has come under fire after being fined for a second time, as police issued the Prime Minister with a fixed penalty for failing to wear a seatbelt in a moving car.

Downing Street said Mr Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised” and that he will “of course” pay the fine.

Mr Sunak came to office promising “integrity”, but critics accused him of showing “the same disregard for the rules” as his predecessor in No 10, Boris Johnson.

He has become only the second prime minister in history to be slapped with a police fine while in the top job, after Mr Johnson was fined during the partygate scandal.

It is also the second fixed penalty notice Mr Sunak has received in less a year, after he paid one as chancellor for attending a lockdown-busting gathering to mark then-prime minister Mr Johnson’s birthday.

Lancashire Constabulary on Friday announced it was fining the Prime Minister after he was spotted not wearing his seatbelt in an Instagram video filmed to promote levelling-up funding during a visit to Lancashire a day earlier.

The force did not reveal how much the fine was, but fixed penalty notices for seatbelt offences are usually £100, rising to up to £500 if taken to court.

Lancashire Police said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.

“After looking into this matter, we have today issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”

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A fixed penalty notice is a sanction for breaking the law, which allows the recipient to pay a set amount of money to avoid going to court.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Rishi Sunak is a total liability.”

A Labour spokesperson added: “Hapless Rishi Sunak’s levelling-up photo op has blown up in his face and turned him into a laughing stock.

“He started the week hoping people would be grateful for a partial refund on the money that has been stripped from them over 13 years of the Tories. But instead he got a warring party and yet another fine from the police.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak has shown the same disregard for the rules as Boris Johnson, and now becomes the second ever prime minister to be fined by the police.

“From partygate to seatbelt gate, these Conservative politicians are just taking the British people for fools.

“Whilst they continue to behave as though it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else, this fine is a reminder that the Conservatives eventually get their comeuppance.”

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The fine caps a tough week for Mr Sunak, who was criticised for using a jet for a series of domestic trips and faced accusations that allocations of levelling-up funding were motivated by an attempt to shore up support in southern Tory seats.

He is also facing calls to sack Nadhim Zahawi as Tory party chairman after reports that he paid a penalty to HMRC as part of a multimillion-pound tax settlement.

In his first speech outside Downing Street, Mr Sunak pledged “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”, after Mr Johnson was forced out after a string of scandals.

But the latest inhabitant of No 10 has been plagued by his own set of controversies from day one, from criticism for reinstating Suella Braverman as Home Secretary just six days after she was forced to step down over a security breach, to an ongoing bullying inquiry into Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.