The Metropolitan Police have ended their investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, telling British prime minister Boris Johnson he will not receive any further fines.
Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak were all fined last month for attending a gathering in the prime minister's office to celebrate his 56th birthday in June 2020. The police said they had issued 126 fines to 83 people in connection with the parties after an investigation during which they studied 510 photographs and 345 documents.
"Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed and the importance of ensuring that we had strong evidence for each FPN [fixed penalty notice] referral," said London police acting deputy commissioner Helen Ball.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray delayed submitting her report on the parties until after the police investigation had concluded, but it is expected to be published next week. The House of Commons privileges committee is investigating whether the prime minister lied to parliament about the parties.
Labour’s shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said it was Mr Johnson’s “barefaced lie” to parliament about the parties that meant he should resign.
“Based on the 126 fines from the parties as at number 10, just looking at the sheer scale of law breaking which has been laid bare by the police, what we know now, for absolute certainty, is that when Boris Johnson came to the House of Commons and said there were no parties in Downing Street and no rules have been broken, that that was a barefaced lie,” she told the BBC.
“There is no possible way in which he can claim that he was unaware that these parties that he was attending didn’t break the rules here. And for that – we think it’s an extremely important point, always been the most important point – he should resign.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer, who has promised to resign if Durham police fine him over an alleged lockdown breach, said he remained of the view that Mr Johnson should step down. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey also accused the prime minister of lying, calling for Ms Gray’s report to be published without delay.
“This police investigation confirms Boris Johnson’s Downing Street was fined more times for breaking Covid laws than any other address in the country. It exposes a shocking level of criminality at the heart of Johnson’s number 10. The full Sue Gray report should now be published without delay and the parliamentary inquiry should be launched into Johnson’s lies,” he said.
The Metropolitan Police said they did not routinely investigate historical breaches of lockdown rules during the pandemic.
“This was for two reasons: first that we could not retrospectively engage and inform those involved that they were breaching the rules – an important step in our policing strategy around Covid; and second, that as these were summary-only offences, we did not judge it a proportionate use of officers’ time,” they said.