Partygate fine: Boris Johnson did not flout Covid rules with ‘malice’, says Grant Shapps

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Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been fined by the Metropolitan Police over lockdown parties in Downing Street. The Prime Minister, his wife and the Chancellor all apologised on Tuesday and confirmed they had paid the fines imposed by the Metropolitan Police over a party held on June 19, 2020, to mark the PM’s 56th birthday.

Mr Johnson said it “did not occur” to him that the gathering might be breaching Covid rules, while Rishi Sunak said he understood that “for figures in public office, the rules must be applied stringently in order to maintain public confidence”.

Transport minister Grant Shapps said Mr Johnson had not meant to mislead.

Mr Shapps told Sky News: “I’m not saying that the Prime Minister isn’t a flawed individual. We’re all flawed in different ways.”

“The question is did somebody set out to do these things with malice?” he asked.

Senior ministers have rallied round Mr Johnson, while a number of previous critics in his Conservative Party have said now was not the time for a change in leadership given the war in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister initially told Parliament that no parties took place.

But police are investigating 12 gatherings after an internal inquiry found his staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties when social mixing was all but banned in Britain.

Mr Johnson, who received the 50-pound fixed penalty notice over a gathering on his birthday in June 2020, has since said he attended some of the events, raising the prospect that he could face further fines.

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The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported late on Wednesday that Mr Johnson faced a second fine for attending a leaving party for his former director of communications, Lee Cain.

An unnamed source close to the police investigation told the newspaper: “The event that took place on Nov, 13, 2020, to mark the departure of Lee Cain is considered to be the most serious breach of the coronavirus regulations among the events that the Prime Minister attended.”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson could face three more fines, according to a news report by The Guardian.

The report stated that the key insiders said they believed Mr Johnson was likely to receive at least three more fines for events that have not yet been fully investigated by police.

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The events that the Metropolitan police have yet to examine, which Mr Johnson attended, include the May 2020 summer party, a November gathering in the Prime Minister’s flat with his wife on the day of Dominic Cummings’ departure, and a leaving do for Lee Cain, a senior aide, in No 10 a day later.

Sources claim no attender had yet received a fine for those events.



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