Monday, May 23, 2022

UK police issue first 20 fines over lockdown gatherings in Downing Street

Police are investigating 12 gatherings held at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office after an internal inquiry found Johnson's staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties.

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British police said on Tuesday they would be recommending an initial 20 fixed penalty notices are issued over breaches of coronavirus lockdown rules at gatherings in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s offices and residence.

Police are investigating 12 gatherings held at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office after an internal inquiry found Johnson’s staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties, with the British leader attending a few of the events himself.

“We will today initially begin to refer 20 fixed penalty notices to be issued for breaches of Covid-19 regulations,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement, adding that the fines would be issued by the Acro Criminal Records Office.

“We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed and have completed a number of assessments. However due to the significant amount of investigative material that remains to be assessed, further referrals may be made to Acro if the evidential threshold is made.”

Fixed penalty notices are issued to people deemed to have broken Covid rules. The penalty for participating in a gathering of more than 15 people is an 800 pound (US$1,048) fine.

The police said they would not confirm which events the fixed penalty notices referred to as it could lead to the identification of the individuals involved.

Revelations of the gatherings, many of which took place when people could not attend funerals or say farewell to loved ones dying in hospital due to strict Covid-19 lockdown rules, sparked widespread anger.

The police have said over 100 questionnaires had been sent out as part of the investigation to ask them to explain their involvement in the gatherings. Johnson was among those who received such a questionnaire.

Police said earlier this month they had begun to interview witnesses as part of their investigation.

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