UK police fine 126 for ‘Partigate’ lockdown scandal at 10

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LONDON – The Metropolitan Police have closed an investigation into a string of drinking held by British government officials in violation of the Covid Lockdown rule, the department said on Thursday, imposing a total of 126 fines for eight rallies in 2020 and 2021.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement that neither the prime minister nor his wife had been fined in the last round. Last month, Johnson was among those named for the fine, along with his wife, Carrie Johnson, and Exchequer Sage Sunak, for attending the prime minister’s birthday party in the cabinet room in June 2021.

Yet, imposing more fines for epidemic violations would surely provoke resentment over Johnson and his 10 Downing Street operations, emphasizing the feeling that the ruling elite had one rule for the common people and another for themselves. Johnson is the first incumbent prime minister to be found guilty of violating the law.

The rallies took place during a strict government-directed lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Restrictions mean people can’t see their loved one in a hospital or nursing home or even attend a funeral.

His four-month investigation into what the British press called “Partigate” was enough to name the police code: Operation Hillman. And the new details of the investigation make it clear that the investigation did not result in mere parking tickets, as some Johnson defenders have argued.

The main investigation team consists of 12 full-time detectives, police said, adding that other assistance and supervision is needed. The total cost is 60 460,000 or about 70 570,000.

Police examined 12 rallies held on Downing Street and nearby government offices in 2020 and 2021, determining eight violations.

Among them: a bash on May 20, 2020, inviting a top Johnson staff member to tell participants to “bring their own wine” and a party on the eve of the funeral of Prince Philip’s husband, Prince Elizabeth II, on April 16, 2021.

Detectives examined 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries and witness statements; 510 photographs and CCTV footage; And the 204 questionnaires, police said, are the most extensive investigations by ministry and government officials of any lockdown investigation during the epidemic.

The scandal threatened Johnson’s prime ministership, with numerous calls for his resignation, although anger has subsided ever since.

He turned down an invitation to resign after being fined last month, and sought to justify his actions by saying he was an “honest” politician who had “unknowingly” misled parliament by saying “guidelines and rules” for parties on Downing Street. “Followed at all times.”

Johnson has repeatedly apologized to the parties, not only to the public, but also to the King.

One of the reasons for his Conservative party’s defeat in the recent local elections was the illegal assembly, and the political danger remained.

Johnson and his government face two more investigations. An administrative report by civil servant Sue Gray, who previously said the parties were involved in “leadership and judgment failures”, is expected to be released soon after the police investigation is completed.

Parliament has launched an additional investigation into whether Johnson “knowingly misled” lawmakers about the rally and whether they violated the lockdown rule.

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