Boris Johnson's full statement after Sue Gray report
The Metropolitan Police investigation into Partygate concluded last week.
The force said a total of 126 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) had been levied against 83 people, on eight dates from May 2020 to April 2021. It declined to say which events fines had been issued for.
Then, yesterday, freshly unencumbered by the police, Sue Gray published her own report into Partygate in which she detailed the circumstances behind the events fined and not fined by the police and offered her own damning ruling.
With those events thoroughly looked into, Boris Johnson said he felt "humbled" but has asked for the country to move on.
If only it were that simple - with one of the events mysteriously brushed over by both the police and the Gray report, some MPs expressed concerns about a cover-up and the police's judgement has been questioned with Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper writing to Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) calling for them to examine the Met’s Operation Hillman inquiry.
And when you look at some things that people received fines for during the pandemic, and compare them with Downing Street events, it does seem there could be cause for a second look.
15 May 2020
On 15 May 2020, a photograph obtained by the Guardian showed a number of groups in the garden of No 10 when people could only meet one other person outside. Downing Street said that - despite wine and cheese being present - they were holding outdoor meetings and the police seemed to agree, opting not to investigate the event.
Five days later, a Londoner was fined for standing in the street. Nuradeem Mohammed, 28, was stopped by police in Ealing Road and accused of being in a gathering of over two people “without reasonable excuse”.
Court documents acquired by the Evening Standard showed he had to pay a £100 fine as well as £134 in court costs.
13 November 2020
Boris Johnson's wife Carrie is alleged to have blasted out the Abba song 'Winner Takes It All' at an event in the Downing Street flat on 13 November 2020 in which food and alcohol were served.
In her report, Gray said it was "not appropriate or proportionate" to carry on looking at the event, which was alleged to have taken place to celebrate Dominic Cummings leaving, in light of the police investigation and some MPs have expressed concerns that this amounts to a "cover up".
Johnson has insisted it was a work event. One month later when two students were fined £10,000 each for holding a party in a flat in Derby on 6 December which had up to 70 attendees.
The party organiser, a 19-year-old University of Derby student, was fined.
A fellow student, 20, was fined after officers were called to his flat in Gower Street on 13 December and found more than 30 people.
10 December 2020
On 10 December 2020, there was a gathering of 20-30 staff in the Department for Education ahead of the Christmas break. There was wine, food and it lasted 60 minutes.
At the time, London was in Tier 2 which stopped people mixing indoors unless there was a valid work exemption. The government said people should not to have Christmas parties with their colleagues or mix for primarily social reasons.
\u201c@Mick_Bailey Hi Mick, although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier. You can find more information here: https://t.co/OffEeTzYh3 Thanks\u201d
The police did not investigate this event but around the same time they broke up another office party in London.
They even issued a £10,000 fine after they discovered the event - attended by 45 people - with “alcohol, a DJ and decks”, according to LBC.
15 December 2020
On 15 December 2020, there was a gathering in No 10 for an online Christmas Quiz. It was meant to be virtual but some teams who worked in the office gathered closely to take part and some people got too drunk they were asked to leave via the back door to avoid the press.
The police didn't investigate this event but they did get cross with a pub in Barnstaple, North Devon, which was issued with three fixed penalty notices totalling £3,000 after police and council enforcement officers visited it on 12 December and found that it was not being run in a Covid-safe manner by the person in control of the premises.
Staff in the pub, called 'Rumours', were not checking customers were part of the same household group or bubble before letting them in, and it was not serving substantial meals - as required at the time.
A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police told indy100:
"We understand there will be significant interest in why some people received FPNs when others didn’t. Our approach throughout has been to not comment on individual cases or the specific events, however, we have been very open about the criteria we considered and the assessment process we followed.
"In order to refer for an FPN, we were required to have evidence on which to form a reasonable belief that an individual had committed an offence under the regulations. Our assessments included the circumstances behind each event, the actions of each individual, how many people the gathering consisted of, whether the gathering was considered to satisfy an applicable exception prescribed by the Regulations and, if not, whether the individual had a reasonable excuse for participating in that gathering. These were considered against the legislation at that time, to establish whether their behaviour met the criminal threshold for an FPN referral to be made. We took great care to ensure that for each referral we had the necessary evidence to prosecute the FPN at court, were it not paid."
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