British police conclude investigation into Johnson’s ‘partygate’ scandal

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Metropolitan Police said on Thursday it had concluded its investigation into breaches of COVID-19 regulations at British government offices, including the official residence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with a total of 126 fines issued for violations.

Police said they issued fixed fine notices to 53 men and 73 women for rallies that took place on eight dates between May 2020, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, and April 2021. Some people have received several fines. The case was dubbed “partygate” by the media.

The conclusion of the police investigation means that the results of a separate investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray can now be published. Government officials say the Gray report, which is being closely watched as it censures Johnson and his Tory government, will be released as soon as possible – although it is unlikely to be until next week.

Johnson apologized last month after revealing he was among dozens of people who paid a police fine for attending parties and gatherings breaking the lockdown. It made him the first British leader to be sanctioned for breaking the law while in office.

Revelations that Johnson and other senior officials gathered illegally in government buildings – including taking advantage of “wine hour Fridays” allegedly hosted by Johnson staff – at a time when millions of people around the country complying with government lockdown restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 angered voters and sparked calls for Johnson to resign.

Johnson’s spokesman said Thursday that he would not receive any more fines on top of the one he has already paid.

“The Met have confirmed that they are taking no further action” against the prime minister, spokesman Max Blain said.

Police are not identifying those who were fined, but Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, as well as Johnson’s wife Carrie, said they were among those fined with Johnson for attending at a birthday party for the Prime Minister.

Opposition parties have called for the Gray report to be released without delay.

“The public made huge sacrifices while Boris Johnson celebrated, he deserves the full truth,” tweeted Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey.

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Edward L. Robinett