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Alamy Stock Photo British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
# Partygate
Partygate: Boris Johnson pays fine and admits wrongful birthday gathering but defies calls to resign
Opposition parties have called for both Johnson and Rishi to resign.

LAST UPDATE | Apr 12th 2022, 6:29 PM

BORIS JOHNSON HAS apologised and paid a fine relating a gathering for his birthday during lockdown in June 2020 but says he does not intend to resign. 

The UK Prime Minister has said he offers a “full apology” for his actions after it was confirmed today that he, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were among those to be fined as part of a police probe into lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Speaking at his residence in Chequers, the Johnson said: “Today I’ve received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police relating to an event in Downing Street on 19 June 2020.

And let me say immediately that I’ve paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology and in the spirit of openness and humility I want to be completely clear about what happened on that date.

Johnson said that on the day in question he began work at 7am and “chaired eight meetings in Number 10″ 

“I visited a school in Hemel Hempstead, which took me out of Downing Street for over four hours and amongst all these engagements on a day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes,” he said. 

Johnson said he takes “full responsibility for everything” but that he “couldn’t be everywhere at once” when asked about the widespread nature of the gatherings across Whitehall.

Johnson added that he “fully respects” the outcome of the Metropolitan Police investigation and that he accepts “in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better”.

Amind claims that he may have misled parliament, Johnson said he “spoke in completely good faith” when he repeatedly said all guidelines were followed as did not occur to him that he was in breach of the rules.

When I said that I spoke in completely good faith because as I’ve said to you just now I… at the time that I was standing up for nine minutes in the Cabinet Room where I work every day, it didn’t occur to me that, as I say, that I was in breach of the rules.

“I now humbly accept that I was. But I think the best thing I can do now is, having settled the fine, is focus on the job in hand. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Asked if he would resign, Johnson said: 

And as I’ve said just now I want to be able to get on and deliver the mandate that I have, but also to tackle the problems that the country must face right now and to make sure that we get on with delivering for the people in this country. That is my priority.

50 fines

Police investigating allegations of lockdown parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall confirmed today that they made more than 50 referrals for fines.

Johnson is understood to have been present at six of the at least 12 events being investigated.

A spokesperson for No 1o said the police confirmed that the incident Johnson was fined for was his own birthday celebration, which took place on 19 June, 2020 in the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street.”

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer quickly called for both Johnson and Sunak to resign when it emerged that they would be fined.

“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public.

“They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better,” Starmer tweeted.

Starmer’s remarks were echoed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who also said Johnson must resign as prime minister.

“He broke the law and repeatedly lied to parliament about it. The basic values of integrity and decency – essential to the proper working of any parliamentary democracy – demand that he go,” Sturgeon said.

The Scottish National Party leader said Johnson should “take his out of touch chancellor with him.”

Bereaved families have said there is “simply no way” the Prime Minister and Chancellor can continue in their posts.

Lobby Akinnola, spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said Johnson and Sunak “broke the law” and “took us all for mugs”.

He said: “There is simply no way either the Prime Minister or Chancellor can continue.
“Their dishonesty has caused untold hurt to the bereaved.

“Not only that, but they have lost all credibility with the wider public, which could cost lives if new variants mean restrictions are needed in the future.

If they had any decency they would be gone by tonight.

 

At least 30 more fixed penalty notices will be issued by the ACRO Criminal Records Office, the Metropolitan Police said in its latest update on Operation Hillman, which is looking into breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

This is up from the 20 referrals for fixed-penalty notices (FPN) the force said had been made at the end of March.

Scotland Yard said it was “making every effort to progress this investigation at speed”, with the possibility of more fines to come.

Speaking before news about Johnson’s fine was made public, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey MP said the additional fines “expose the shocking scale of the criminality in Boris Johnson’s No 10”.

The former cabinet minister added:

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.”

ACRO Criminal Records Office, the body responsible for issuing the penalties, will now deal with the latest tranche confirmed by police today.

Issuing guidance on why they were opting not to name those handed fines, the Met said they were following advice that “identities of people dealt with by cautions, speeding fines and other fixed penalties – out-of-court disposals – should not be released or confirmed”.

The advice also says that forces should “say that ‘a man’ or ‘a woman’ has been dealt with and only release general details of the offence”.

It comes after 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 Prince Philip’s funeral last year.

There were also reports that some of the fines issued last month related to coronavirus law-breaking by those who attended a leaving party for a senior official who helped shape the Government’s response to the pandemic.

The Telegraph reported that some of those at the farewell event for Kate Josephs, who was director-general of the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 taskforce, have been handed fixed-penalty notices.

The drinks event was held in the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2020 at a time when London was under Tier 3 restrictions, banning indoor socialising.

Josephs, who is on discretionary leave from her role as chief executive of Sheffield City Council, has not commented on the report but in January apologised after news of the gathering emerged.

Additional reporting from Céimin Burke

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