Police 'looking into' video of Rishi Sunak not wearing seatbelt in moving car

ITV News' political editor Robert Peston discusses what this could mean for the Prime Minister

Lancashire Police have said they are "looking into the matter" after Rishi Sunak removed his seatbelt to film a social media video message while a passenger in the back seat of a car.

Rishi Sunak earlier apologised for failing to wear a seatbelt - an offence which can be punished with fines of up to £500. Downing Street said the prime minister had made a “brief error of judgment” by removing the safety device as he promoted his levelling-up funding in the Instagram video when he visited Lancashire on Thursday. A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said on Thursday: “We are aware of the matter and we will be looking into it.” A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and apologises”. “The prime minister believes everyone should wear a seatbelt,” the spokesman said. “It was an error of judgment, he removed it for a short period of time to film a clip, which you’ve seen, but he accepts that was a mistake.”

Police motorbikes can be seen escorting the car as Mr Sunak addresses the camera.

Mr Sunak was asked about failing to wear his seatbelt as he walked off from a broadcast interview in Hartlepool, but he declined to answer. There are a few exemptions for failing to wear a belt, including when a car is being used for police, fire and rescue services and for certified medical issues.

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The government has considered toughening seatbelt rules to ensure drivers not wearing them could receive penalty points.

Recent Department for Transport (DfT) figures suggested around 30% of people killed in cars on Britain’s roads in 2021 were unrestrained.

Mr Sunak had already been criticised for flying to Blackpool in a taxpayer-funded RAF jet rather than taking a train.

Labour said Mr Sunak’s video was adding to "endless painful viewing" after he was previously seen struggling to make a contactless payment with his card.

"Rishi Sunak doesn’t know how to manage a seatbelt, his debit card, a train service, the economy, this country," a spokeswoman said.

Elsewhere, the AA warned of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt.

"No matter who you are it is important to wear your seatbelt when in the car," an AA spokesman said.