Downing Street staff have been fined by police for a party that took place the day before Prince Philip’s funeral, in Scotland Yard’s first ruling that Covid laws were broken inside the No. 10 in the heart of government.
After the Guardian revealed fixed penalty notices were handed out to those who witnessed a departure for a Boris Johnson aide to the Cabinet Office in June 2020, sources said those who partied until early morning at No 10 on April 16, 2021 had also been warned that they would receive fines.
The event caused consternation due to the contrast between it and the Queen’s strict adherence to social distancing rules by sitting alone at the funeral of her 73-year-old husband.
Meanwhile, Downing Street staff are said to have been so drunk they broke the swing used by the Prime Minister’s son Wilf in Garden No 10, while a member of staff was sent to the local supermarket to fill a suitcase with wine. and another acted as a DJ.
Two parties were held that evening – one to mark the departure of Johnson’s director of communications, James Slack, and another for one of Johnson’s personal photographers.
At the time, England was on stage two of the strict roadmap out of lockdown, meaning all indoor mixing was banned.
Many of those who partied at No 10 on April 16 received questionnaires from the Met asking them to provide a reasonable excuse for their attendance.
But in an email, the Operation Hillman team investigating the series of deconfinement events told some of them that it had been “assessed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed an offense in violation of the regulations”.
The notification, which was received by some late last week, added: “In light of this, you should be flagged for the issuance of a Fixed Fine Notice (FPN), providing you with the possibility of releasing you from any liability upon conviction for the offense by payment of a fixed fine.
The Met said further correspondence confirming details of the fine would be sent by ACRO – the Criminal Records Issuing Office.
Downing Street declined to comment. No 10 apologized to the Queen in January after details of the parties were reported.
The apparent confirmation that Covid laws were broken inside No 10 will lead to further questions about whether Johnson misled Parliament about the dozen parties being targeted investigation.
He told Keir Starmer during Prime Minister’s Questions on December 1, 2021: “What I can say to the most honorable and learned gentleman is that all guidelines have been followed completely in No 10.”
Scotland Yard said it would not confirm for which events fines were issued, or the identity of anyone who received notice of a fixed fine.
A Met spokesman told the Guardian: ‘Unlike other incidents of Covid regulatory breaches, the investigation under Operation Hillman is still ongoing and as such we are not publishing. no further information at this time.
“At its conclusion, we will consider what information can be released while continuing to work with NPCC. [National Police Chiefs’ Council] principle of not disclosing information that would lead to the identification of an individual.
Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the revelation that fines were to be issued for the April 16, 2021 event “confirms what the British public has known from the start” – that Johnson was “a liar and must resign “.
She told the Guardian: ‘The emotional images of the Queen sitting alone at her husband’s funeral were a hallmark of the British spirit during the pandemic.
“Boris Johnson’s Downing Street has shown no respect for this country. There can be no more cover-ups and no more lies. For the good of the country, and for all who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, he has to go.”
The fines imposed on those who attended the April 16, 2021 party are believed to be part of the first tranche of 20 announced by the Met on Tuesday.
The only two No 10s who have pledged to identify whether they are fined are Johnson and cabinet secretary Simon Case, who had to be recused from leading the Whitehall party’s internal inquiry after it was discovered that a rally had been organized by his team in December 2020.
On Sunday, a Labor MP called for all those fined to be publicly named.
Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, told Sky News that anyone fined – including the Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson – should have their identity made public.
“I think anyone who has been to Downing Street should be named if they have been part of this. Because there’s been so much dishonesty, so much obfuscation from people at the top of Downing Street, from the Prime Minister and his inner circle, I think people just want to know what really happened . Let’s have some transparency, let’s have some honesty.