Boris Johnson refuses to say if Covid rules were broken, even after ‘partygate’ fines

Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street in November 2020.

  • Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to say whether Covid rules were broken during “partygate.”
  • On Tuesday, the police said the first fines would be issued from its investigation of the parties.
  • Johnson faces questions over whether he misled parliament – ​​potentially a resignation matter.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to say whether he has received a fine for his involvement in the lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, or whether he now believes criminal behavior took place.

The Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday that around 20 fixed penalty notices would be issued for Covid-19 breaches in Whitehall and on Downing Street following the first stage of its investigation. More are expected to follow.

On Wednesday morning Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, told broadcasters that “of course” the people who were punished had breached lockdown rules.

Raab told Sky News: “Yes, inevitably fixed-penalty notices are for those who have breached the regulations. And we stand by and support the fact that there should be the Met process, the Sue Gray process and accountability for this.” Gray is a civil servant investigating the parties on behalf of the government.

But not long after Raab spoke, the prime minister’s official spokesman took a different approach, repeatedly declined to agree with him.

Instead, the spokesperson said it was “for the Met to make that judgment” of whether the law has been broken, “rather than the prime minister”.

Speaking to MPs during a meeting of the parliament’s liaison committee on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson refused to be drawn on whether he now believed rules had been broken.

He declined to say whether his prior comments had misled – a misstep the traditionally required a prime minister’s resignation.

Asked if he was one of the individuals to have received a fine so far, Johnson told SNP MP Pete Wishart: “I am sure you would know if I were.”

During a heated exchange with Wishart, he refused to “give a running commentary on an investigation that is still underway”. It would be “wrong for me to deviate from that” position, the prime minister insisted.

“I don’t in any way wish to minimise the importance of the issue… I have been frank in the House about where we think we have gone wrong, the things I regret, that I apologise for.

“There is an ongoing investigation,” he said. “I understand the point you’re making but I am going to camp pretty firmly on my position.”

Johnson said there would “come a point” after the police investigation at which he would be free to speak. He said there was “no doubt” he would answer questions from the committee and later on.

Asked if he thought the scandal was a resigning matter, Johnson told Wishart to “hold your horses”.

Johnson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing over the parties scandal, and told MPs that “all guidance was followed completely [at] Number 10”.

In the two weeks after claims of parties being held during lockdown in Downing Street and in government departments across Whitehall first came out, the government denied 39 times that the rules were broken.

Labor has called for Johnson to resign, and the resurfacing of the story brought back some concern among Tory MPs, although the push to remove him from power has been largely driven underground as a result of Russia’s invasion of conflict.

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