Boris Johnson May Be Slapped With Three More Police Fines Over Partygate Scandal
05:42 GMT 14.04.2022 (Updated: 15:18 GMT 28.05.2023)
On Tuesday, the PM confirmed that he had paid a Metropolitan Police fine for attending a birthday gathering in the cabinet room in June 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. He, however, defied calls to step down, stressing that it's his job "to get on and deliver" for the people of the UK.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
is bracing himself for three more police fines over breaching COVID lockdown rules at parties in Downing Street a few years ago, The Daily Mirror
and The Guardian
have cited unnamed sources as saying.
The events reportedly include a May 2020 summer party, a November gathering in Johnson's flat with his wife on the day of Dominic Cummings' departure, and a leaving do for Lee Cain, a senior aide, in Number 10 a day later.
The insiders claimed that no attendee had yet received a fine for those events, which have yet to be fully investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
Referring to a £50 ($65) fixed-penalty notice (FPN) that was slapped on the UK prime minister earlier this week, the sources told The Mirror that "this is not the only fine Johnson is getting".
One government insider was cited by the newspaper as saying that the PM had been taken by surprise by his initial fine but was "bang to rights" over the other alleged law-busting social gatherings at Downing Street.
One of the sources suggested that the fines could prove "fatal" for the prime minister's career.
"Conservatives, if they stand for anything, stand for the rule of law and the maintenance of order. If they cannot abide their own rules, and do not show humility in the face of justice, it is impossible for them to maintain that mantle", the source argued.
The Guardian quoted a Downing Street source as making it clear that the PM's position could come under threat when MPs return to Westminster from recess next week. The insider added that the apparent lull felt like a "calm before the potential storm".
This comes after Johnson defied calls by the opposition to step down after he, along with his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, was fined by Scotland Yard for attending a lockdown-busting birthday party at Downing Street in June 2020.
In televised remarks on Tuesday, the prime minister said that he "fully" respects the outcome of the police investigation
and understands "the anger that many will feel" that he himself "fell short when it came to observing the very rules" that his government had introduced to protect the public.
"I accept in all sincerity that people have a right to expect better. Now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people […]. I take that task with due humility but with maximum determination to fulfill my duty and do what's best for the country I serve. I believe it's my job to get on and deliver for the people of this country. That's what I'm going to do", Johnson added.
The developments were followed by Lords Justice Minister David Wolfson quitting his job on Wednesday and telling the PM that he regrets that "recent disclosures lead to the inevitable conclusion that there was repeated rule breaking, and breaches of the criminal law, in Downing Street".
Wolfson added that "it is not just a question of what happened in Downing Street, or your [Johnson's] own conduct. It is also, and perhaps more so, the official response to what took place".
A new YouGov opinion poll has since revealed that more than half of the British public think that Johnson should step down over the "Partygate" scandal.
The survey was conducted among 2,464 British people over 18 years old on 12 April, and showed that 57% of the public thinks that Johnson "should resign" as prime minister, 30% are in favour of him "remaining in his role", and 13% said they "did not know".
For the UK prime minister, that means a 10 point increase in those calling for his resignation from a poll released on 8 March, when 47% said he should step down and 36% insisted Johnson ought to stay.
As for the Metropolitan Police probe, it was preceded by the publication in late January of the initial findings of senior civil servant Sue Gray's report on the "Partygate" allegations. The document pointed out that there were "failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office" and that "some of the events should not have been allowed to take place".
The Scotland Yard inquiry is dealing with 12 separate events, including six that Johnson is believed to have attended, such as a "bring your own booze" gathering in May 2020 and the PM's birthday celebrations in June 2020. The PM previously claimed that he had not broken the rules and considered the events as work-related. He reshuffled his senior staff following the publication of Gray's initial findings
, but made it clear that he intends to carry on with his job.