May 12, 7:47 p.m.
The number of fines imposed for breaching coronavirus rules at British government facilities – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office – has risen to more than 100. This was announced by the London Police. The new figure represents a doubling of the fines imposed in the scandal known as “Partygate” compared to information from April, at which time police spoke of about 50 fines as a result of their investigations.
Police said investigations into about a dozen gatherings were still ongoing. This reportedly included office parties, in which attendees were asked to bring their own drink (“bring your own liquor”), and “Wine Time Fridays,” organized by Johnson staff. Police do not identify recipients of fines orders. However, Johnson said he is not among the recipients of the recent string of fines.
Johnson admitted in April that he was among dozens of people who were fined by police for attending parties and gatherings in violation of the lockdown in force at the time. The fine made Johnson the first British prime minister in history to be found to have broken the law during his tenure.
Revelations that Johnson and other senior politicians held illegal meetings in government buildings in 2020 and 2021 while millions across the country were forced into severe confinement by the pandemic, has led to voter anger and calls for Johnson to resign.
Johnson apologized for attending a surprise birthday party at his official residence in Downing Street in June 2020. But he insisted he “didn’t think” that the gathering, which lasted less than ten minutes, was a party. Johnson’s wife, Carey, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said they were directed to the same meeting.
Senior official Sue Gray is leading a separate investigation into government parties. In a preliminary report on the gatherings that were not the subject of criminal investigations by the police, she said that poor leadership and miscalculation had enabled events that should not have happened.
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