In January, the force had launched an investigation into 12 events where COVID restrictions may have been breached in 2020 and 2021
The Metropolitan Police are set to issue an initial 20 fines to people who broke lockdown rules by attending illegal parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
After weeks of the government insisting that no lockdown rules were broken, the Met confirmed that it is referring 20 FPNs to the ACRO Criminal Records Office – which is responsible for issuing fines.
In a statement released earlier today, the Met said: “The investigation into allegations of breaches of COVID-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street has now progressed to the point where the first referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) will be made to ACRO Criminal Records Office.
“We will today initially begin to refer 20 fixed penalty notices to be issued for breaches of Covid-19 regulations. The ACRO Criminal Records Office will then be responsible for issuing the FPNs to the individual following the referrals from the MPS.
“We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed and have completed a number of assessments. However due to the significant amount of investigative material that remains to be assessed, further referrals may be made to ACRO if the evidential threshold is made.”
The force had launched an investigation into 12 events where COVID restrictions may have been breached in 2020 and 2021 in January.
It is not yet clear whether prime minister Boris Johnson has received a fixed penalty notice. Among the events under investigation is a “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden on 20 May 2020, organised by the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds.
The scandal, dubbed partygate, had led to calls for Johnson to quit as prime minister, including from a number of Tory MPs who had sent in letters of no confidence to the 1922 committee but some are understood to have withdrawn following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Met’s statement of an initial 20 fines being issued is confirmation that lockdown rules were broken at the heart of government by those responsible for setting the rules.
The police had initially refused to launch an investigation into lockdown breaching parties at Downing Street and Whitehall, only to change its stance, causing a delay to the Sue Gray inquiry.
The initial findings of Ms Gray’s inquiry criticised “failures of leadership and judgement” over the gatherings, between May 2020 and April 2021, although the report was redacted to allow the Met to complete their own criminal investigation.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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