Police to hand out first set of fines over Downing Street parties imminently, ITV News understands
The first set of fines for parties and gatherings held at Downing Street in breach of Covid restrictions are set to be handed out to approximately 20 officials, ITV News understands.
The fines come after questionnaires were sent by the Metropolitan Police to those suspected of breaking Covid regulations by attending gatherings at the height of the pandemic when lockdown measures were in place.
"The Cabinet Office has been told that an initial tranche of approximately 20 officials will be fined in next day or so for partying in breach of Covid 19 restrictions," ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston says.
The first punishments are seen as the “easiest cases”, the “low hanging fruit”, he reports.
More fines are expected - this is seen as the first wave as there are still many Downing Street events that are yet to be fully investigated.
ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston discusses what we can expect tomorrow
ITV News understands no decision has been made on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be fined for attending any of the events in question.
The Metropolitan Police told ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand the force would not be providing a “running commentary” on when an announcement would be made.
Sue Gray's full report into the partygate scandal will not be published until all fines are handed out, which could take months.
It is anticipated that the police will offer greater clarity on the situation on Tuesday.
In their questionnaires Downing Street staff were asked by police to provide a “lawful exception” or “reasonable excuse” for parties which took place during lockdown.
A total over 16 events over a 20-month period have been looked into by Ms Gray, while the police are investigating 12 of them.
Two Downing Street parties were said to have been held the night before the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral in April last year, while the country was in a period of national mourning and mass indoor social mixing was still barred, which was initially reported by The Telegraph.
These parties are being investigated by the police.
Advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the PM’s personal photographers.
The two parties later merged together and had 30 people in attendance, with witnesses saying that alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music.