Left, an armed, white male Metropolitan Police officer stands outside Number 10 Downing Street. Right, Boris Johnson, a white man in a black suit, holding a cake with cream icing and strawberries on top.
Rob Pinney/Getty Images and Andrew Parsons/Downing Street

Public fury over several Downing Street parties during lockdown was reignited this week, when it was revealed that Boris Johnson had allegedly held a birthday party in June 2020 which was reportedly attended by up to 30 people.

ITV News, who broke the exclusive, reported that those present ate picnic food from M&S at the gathering, which is also understood to have been in attendance by wife Carrie Johnson and Lulu Lytle – the interior designer for the couple’s Downing Street flat which has attracted its own controversy in recent months.

Downing Street didn’t deny the gathering took place when approached for comment, telling the broadcaster: “A group of staff working in No 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday.

“He was there for less than 10 minutes.”

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police have confirmed that it has launched an investigation into the lockdown parties.

As another scandal erupts over rule-breaking parties, and people once again express their sympathies towards civil servant Sue Gray who’s investigating all this mess, news outlets are once again contextualising the issue against the sacrifices made by ordinary working people – especially birthday parties.

Yet there’s another possible way to illustrate the apparent contrast between the public and the UK Government when it comes to enforcement on Covid rule-breaking – and that’s in the number of fines issued by police for breaking the law.

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According to the latest data from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), 106,907 fines in England were processed by police from the start of the pandemic to 19 December. We asked what this meant in monetary terms, but they were unable to provide this.

“The sum of all Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued would not be accurate at this time. Some will have been paid, others contested, and some are now subject to court processes.

“As a result of this, the overall number of fines does not equal the overall number of payments,” an NPCC spokesman told Indy100.

However, with a B in GCSE Maths and a scientific calculator in hand (because we’re taking this very, very seriously), we were able to calculate a rough estimate based on the minimum possible sum collected by police in England to date – assuming every one of those 106,907 fines was paid.

Allow us to explain.

Under coronavirus regulations, police have the power to slap a FPN on individuals breaching the rules on matters such as failing to wear a face mask, quarantine or self-isolate when necessary.

These range from a minimum of £200 for a first offence, to a maximum of £10,000, according to a Home Office spokesperson.

Indy100 understands that at the start of the pandemic, the £200 minimum in place currently was actually £60.

So, assuming every possible fine was paid, and everyone had to pay £60 - even if it is part of a sum which is massively over that figure - the minimum amount of cash raked in by UK police forces in Covid fines or Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) is a simple case of multiplying £60 by the 106,907 fines.

That’s more than £6 million to spend on a booze-up, lads!

If you want to be precise, the estimate is actually around £6,414,420 – with all the caveats outlined above, of course.

So what does this mean in recent party terms? What can that many millions buy you?

142,542 Colin the Caterpillar cakes

Battered versions of the chocolate-covered cakes are now available from Papa’s Fish and Chips outlets

Papa’s Fish and Chips/Facebook

What with the prime minister celebrating his 66th birthday on 19 June 2020, a cake was surely in order, and given ITV News reports that the snacks were procured from M&S, there’s only one option for a birthday cake, isn’t there?

On the supermarket’s website, a personalised giant Colin the Caterpillar cake sets you back £45. Even when the Downing Street birthday party is only understood to have been attended by around 30 people, this cake serves an extra 10 people, you lucky devils!

917,656 bottles of red wine

We don’t know much about wines and what the best brands are, but we thought The Sardine Submarine Red on sale for £6.99 at Waitrose sounded suitably fishy.

Pun most definitely intended, because at this point, after the PM’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton resigned after it was found she had joked on film about a wine and cheese party, you either laugh or you cry.

Though if you fancied some of the red stuff, England’s estimated Covid fines would give you more than 917,000 bottles to consume. Try fitting those in a suitcase, Boris!

Actually, on that thought…

128,288 suitcases

We’ll leave this bit of maths to you to figure out, but something tells us fitting that many bottles in so few suitcases (we went for the £50 American Tourister suitcase on Argos – in Tory blue, of course) is going to prove one logistical nightmare.

47,178 swings

One of the biggest tragedies amongst all this which we feel is going underreported is the allegation that little Wilfred Johnson’s swing, was broken by staff who reportedly fancied a go at a party in April last year.


Fortunately, a replacement swing from OutdoorToys comes in at £135.96, meaning the one-year-old could play with more than 47,000 swings.

76,362 Lego Trafalgar Square sets

If you missed it, ex-London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey was snapped at his own rule-breaking party in December 2020, when London had a ban on indoor socialising.

The Christmas do involved an exchanging of gifts, and The Times reported last month that the politician – who left his role as chairman of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee following the scandal – received a Lego set of Trafalgar Square from a Tory donor.

The toy store Hamleys lists the specific set – which contains 1,197 pieces – at £84, although it’s currently out of stock.

As for the cufflinks the aforementioned donor also got Mr Bailey, assuming they were the £220 palladium-plated ones from Burberry, then he could get 29,156 more.

2,565,768 silver and gold cone poppers

Tesco sells them in packs of 10 for £2.50, apparently, though we feel like these won’t be the only party that’s popping soon…

803,812 balloons of the number 56

Yes, he was that old when he held the birthday party in 2020.

And if you thought most of what Boris says is a load of hot air, two numbered balloons – ‘5’ and ‘6’ - cost £3.99 each on PartyDelights, and he can get more than 803,000 of them.

On a separate note, we didn’t know there was so much choice online around balloons, but we digress…

616,771 of the UK’s smelliest cheese

We asked Google what the UK’s smelliest cheese is, to see if it can compete against a Conservative government which stinks of hypocrisy. Apparently, several sites say it’s Stinking Bishop.

Priced at £10.40 from The Cheese Society - who sound official enough – more than 616,000 lobs of cheese can be bought with the estimated sum of Covid fines.

And if they wanted another drink other than wine to wash it down, then they could try…

427,913 of La Gioiosa Prosecco

Earlier this month, The Big Issue reported that staff at the Home Office “mingled and drank prosecco” to celebrate a departmental policy making the news at six.

We probably shouldn’t have gone to Majestic to find a prosecco, given the Tory government have been anything but throughout this whole affair, but at £14.99 a bottle, you can get just short of 428,000 bottles of the bubbly with the wonga.

2,576,072 party hats

Card Factory sell a pack of eight for £2.49, and they even come in assorted colours! How politically neutral.

If you’ve somehow read all of this and think this is excessive, then you’re not alone, and hopefully Boris pays the price when the Sue Gray report is released.

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