Scotland Yard ready to issue first wave of partygate fines ‘imminently’

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Scotland Yard ready to issue first wave of partygate fines ‘imminently’

The first tranche of fixed penalty notices are reportedly set to be issued soon (Pictures: Rex/AP/Getty)

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

The Metropolitan Police is expected to issue the first tranche of fines over ‘partygate’ imminently.

Scotland Yard is investigating 12 events, including as many as six Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have attended.

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Several Whitehall sources have said the force suggested the first fixed penalty notices (FPNs) could be sent out as early as Tuesday, the Daily Telegraph reports.

It is believed that around 20 will initially be issued, with more expected later. Mr Johnson is not expected to be among them.

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Last week it emerged that detectives investigating alleged parties had begun interviewing key witnesses.

The Metropolitan Police said more than 100 questionnaires had been sent out to people at the reported gatherings.

They include a ‘bring your own booze’ event, details of which were emailed to staff at No 10 by the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds in May 2020, and a surprise get-together for Mr Johnson’s birthday in June 2020.

Mr Johnson previously admitted he was at the ‘bring your own booze’ event for 25 minutes – claiming he believed it was a work event – while Downing Street said staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room to mark the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday.

Scotland Yard ready to issue first wave of partygate fines ‘imminently’

Police are investigating 12 events, including as many as six Mr Johnson is said to have attended (Picture: Reuters)

There was no official update from Downing Street or the Cabinet Office on Monday evening.

The Met said: ‘We’re not giving a running commentary and I would refer you to our statement from March 21 which is still on our website.’

That statement revealed detectives had started to interview people as witnesses, and said: ‘As yet, we have not made any referrals to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for the issuing of fixed penalty notices.’

The parties being investigated by the Metropolitan Police:

– May 20 2020: Bring Your Own Booze party:

A leaked email from the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds showed No 10 staff were invited to ‘bring your own booze’ to an event in the Downing Street garden.

Mr Johnson has admitted he was there for 25 minutes, but said he thought it was a ‘work event’ to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

– June 18 2020: Cabinet Office leaving do:

Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s interim report said a gathering in the 70 Whitehall building was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.

The event had not previously been disclosed but The Telegraph said the official in question is former home affairs policy adviser Hannah Young, who left Downing Street to take up the role of deputy consul general in New York.

The newspaper said it understood about 20 people attended, with alcohol consumed.

– June 19 2020: Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday:

Downing Street has admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for the Prime Minister organised by his now wife Carrie.

The PA news agency was told Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of the Downing Street flat, briefly attended while undertaking work there.

However, No 10 has denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.

– November 13 2020: Downing Street flat do:

Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and Mr Johnson live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s wife called the claim ‘total nonsense’.

But reports have since suggested that the Prime Minister was seen heading up to the flat on the night in question, with the Mail On Sunday stating that Abba songs, including The Winner Takes It All, were heard coming from the residence.

Mr Cummings, former de facto chief-of-staff at No 10, has alleged there are photographs of parties held at the flat during lockdown and said he has spoken to people who heard music coming from the Johnsons’ accommodation on the night he exited Downing Street.

– November 13 2020: Leaving party for senior aide:

According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.

– December 17 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’:

The Cabinet Secretary Simon Case removed himself from the inquiry into Whitehall parties – to be replaced by Ms Gray – after reports emerged of a gathering in the Cabinet Office.

It was reported the do had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was included in digital calendars as: ‘Christmas party!’ and included an online quiz.

The Cabinet Office said Mr Case played no part in the event ‘but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own’.

– December 17 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head:

The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce Kate Josephs said she was ‘truly sorry’ over leaving drinks held in the Cabinet Office.

– December 17 2020: No 10 leaving do:

A leaving do was held for a departing Downing Street official.

The Telegraph reported that the staff member in question is Captain Steve Higham, then one of Mr Johnson’s private secretaries, who advised on defence and national security issues.

The Mirror, which first reported the event before the police investigation began, said Mr Johnson was only there ‘for a few minutes’.

Capt Higham became Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in July 2021.

– December 18 2020: Downing Street Christmas party:

Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton resigned after video emerged of her joking about a ‘fictional party’ at a mock press conference.

– January 14 2021: More Downing Street leaving drinks:

A gathering was held in No 10 to mark the departure of two private secretaries.

Reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the leaving event, which was for a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, according to The Telegraph.

The other official’s identity is so far unknown.

– April 16 2021: Leaving drinks on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral:

The night before the Queen sat alone at the funeral of her husband of almost 70 years, in compliance with Covid rules at the time, two leaving dos were reportedly held in No 10.

Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after reported details emerged of boozy drinks parties, including one for outgoing communications director James Slack.

– Events not subject to police investigation:

– May 15 2020: Cheese and wine in the No 10 garden:

A photograph emerged of a number of groups gathered in the No 10 garden, including Mr Johnson, Mrs Johnson, Mr Cummings and Mr Reynolds sitting together on the terrace.

– November 27 2020: Another special adviser leaves:

Mr Johnson reportedly gave a leaving speech at a gathering for Cleo Watson, another ally of Mr Cummings.

– December 10 2020: Department for Education Christmas drinks:

Then education secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly threw a party and delivered a short speech at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.

– December 15 2020: An online Christmas quiz in No 10:

The Prime Minister appeared on contestants’ screens at the quiz but insisted he broke no rules.

On Monday evening, PA asked the Met if, as the Guardian first reported, the force had made any referrals, to which it responded that it was not going beyond the existing statement ‘at this time’.

Adam Wagner, a lawyer who has been examining Covid-19 regulations, said that under all versions of the regulations police ‘have the power to issue a fixed penalty notice if they “reasonably believe” (someone) has committed a criminal offence’.

The human rights barrister tweeted: ‘Anyone who receives a Fixed Penalty Notice is someone who the police believe has committed a criminal offence – but instead of being charged, they get the chance to pay fixed amount of money within 28 days.

‘How much? That is complicated and depends on (a) when the offence occurred (that is, under which regulations), (b) which offence (eg basic offence £100 but organising a gathering over 30 people can be £10k (c) whether the individual has had one or more FPNs before.’

In January, civil servant Sue Gray published a report into the allegations of the parties, which said there were ‘failures of leadership and judgment’ in parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

The initial publication contained limited detail due to the police investigation.

It is unclear if a fuller report will come once the investigation concludes, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman previously saying discussions were needed ‘with the Met and others about what is suitable’.

Following the publication of Ms Gray’s report, Mr Johnson apologised to MPs, adding: ‘I get it and I will fix it.’

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