No more fines for Boris Johnson as police conclude partygate probe

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reports on the details of the Metropolitan Police partygate inquiry, which resulted in 126 fines being dished out

Police have told Boris Johnson he faces no further action over lockdown breaches after the Met said its partygate investigation had concluded and 126 fines have been issued.

It means the only fine he's received is the one issued to him - along with his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak - for attending his 56th birthday celebration in June 2020.

The Met said 83 people were fined in total: 53 fixed penalty notices were issued to 35 men and 73 FPNs to 48 women.

A total of 28 people received between two and five fines through Operation Hillman - which cost the Met Police £460,000 to carry out.

The fines have been issued in relation to illegal events held on government premises on eight dates during the coronavirus pandemic, while the gatherings were outlawed by lockdown rules.

What reasons could be behind the PM only being fined once despite him attending gatherings for which others were fined? Paul Brand explains

The force said it "will not be releasing or confirming the identity of anyone involved in this investigation or providing further details of our findings, in line with the approach we’ve taken throughout the pandemic".

A damning report from Sue Gray - the civil servant who carried out an internal investigation into government Covid-rule-breaking before passing evidence of criminality to the Met - is now expected to be published soon.

Many Tory MPs who expressed displeasure with the PM's management of Downing Street during the pandemic and his subsequent response to party allegations said they would wait for Ms Gray to publish before deciding whether to oust Mr Johnson.

One Tory MP, who previously submitted a letter of no confidence against Mr Johnson, has told ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana they believe the PM is "100% safe" and they will withdraw the letter.

Anushka understands the Sue Gray report will be published next week, before the House of Commons rises for the Whitsun recess on Thursday.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who himself is under investigation for an alleged lockdown breach from April 2021, repeated his calls for the prime minister to resign.

"My view on the prime minister has not changed," he told broadcasters, "of course, after an investigation that shows 120-plus breaches of the law in Downing Street, of course he should resign".

His Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said rules were broken on Downing Street at an "industrial scale" adding: “We must now urgently see the Sue Gray report published in full. It’s time for the prime minister to stop hiding.

"While the British people sacrificed so much, Boris Johnson's Downing Street broke the rules at record-breaking scale. Britain deserves better."

The Met Police's involvement in this is over, but it won't be the last chapter, reports UK Editor Paul Brand

Downing Street said the PM will update Parliament when Ms Gray's report is published.

His spokesman said: "I would say the prime minister is pleased the investigation has concluded and we'd like to thank the Met Police for their work in bringing this investigation to completion.

"Beyond that ... I think the prime minister will update Parliament in the first instance on the publication, once Sue Gray's report is published, and that's when he will talk in more detail. So beyond that I wouldn't be going into more detail."

The police investigation involved a team of twelve detectives working through 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries and witness statements, 510 photographs and CCTV images and 204 questionnaires as part of a careful and thorough enquiry, the force said.

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The Met had refused to investigate allegations of rule-breaking on Downing Street until it was passed evidence of criminality from Ms Gray - resistance that won the force numerous critics.

And Ms Gray's inquiry was only launched after journalists uncovered evidence that laws had been broken, including an email leaked to ITV News which revealed 100 government staff members had been invited to bring their own booze to a garden party in Number 10.

Another big moment in the saga was when ITV News released a video showing several staff members laughing about attending a Christmas party while the rest of the UK was obeying rules to not socialise.

UK Editor Paul Brand, who broke those two stories, suggested to Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball it was "beyond incompetent" for the Met to delay an investigation last year when evidence was piling up.

"We were given material from the Cabinet Office in January this year when they had from their own investigations formed the view that that material may have been evidence of breaches," she said.

At the suggestion the Met had "waited for a civil servant and journalists" to do their work for them, Ms Ball said: "The Cabinet Office has an investigative role... it was right that we let them do that investigation and when they felt that they had the material, they gave that to us".

"We assessed that very quickly and commenced our investigation as soon as we felt the time was right."

The events which resulted in fines are:

  • May 20, 2020 - The infamous Bring Your Own Booze party

  • June 18, 2020 - A Cabinet Office leaving do

  • June 19, 2020 - Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday

  • November 13, 2020 - Gathering in PM's Downing Street flat after Dominic Cummings quit

  • December 17, 2020 - Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’

  • 18 December 18, 2020 - Downing Street Christmas party, which ITV News revealed with video of staff joking about event

  • January 14, 2021 - More Downing Street leaving drinks to mark the departure of two permanent secretaries

  • April 16, 2021 - Two leaving dos on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said it's time people "move on" from the partygate scandal now the police probe is over.

He told ITV News: "What happened in Downing Street ought not to have done but I'm also clear that it cannot be the only issue that we have a national conversation about."

The minister welcomed the investigation's closure, saying it had been an "enormous distraction" for the government, adding: "We ought now to move on."

Acting Deputy Commissioner Ball said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic impacted all of us in so many ways and strong feelings and opinions have been expressed on this particular issue.

“When Covid regulations were introduced, the Met was clear that whilst we would not routinely investigate breaches of regulations retrospectively, there may be occasions when it would be appropriate to do so.

“The information that we received with regard to the alleged breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall was sufficient to reach our criteria to begin such an investigation.

“Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed and the importance of ensuring that we had strong evidence for each FPN referral.

“This investigation is now complete.”