Updated Mar 29, 2022 - World

U.K. police to issue 20 fines over lockdown parties at PM's residence

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement at Parliament on January 31
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street earlier this year. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

London's Metropolitan Police confirmed to Axios Tuesday 20 fines will be issued for people who attended lockdown-defying parties at Downing Street and Whitehall government offices in the United Kingdom, but it won't identify who will receive them.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized for attending at least one party during a strict lockdown in May 2020 and faced calls to resign, even from members of his ruling Conservative Party, over the gatherings.

  • A Met Police spokesperson said those fined would be named only if they challenged the fines.

What's next: The police will refer the fixed penalty notices to the ACRO Criminal Records Office, a U.K. police unit that supports law enforcement, which would be responsible for issuing the fines, per a Met Police statement.

  • Recipients have 28 days to pay or contest the fines.

What they're saying: "We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed and have completed a number of assessments," the police said in the statement.

  • "However due to the significant amount of investigative material that remains to be assessed, further referrals may be made to ACRO if the evidential threshold is made."

The big picture: There was widespread public anger at the parties, and U.K. media coverage was full of the accounts of people who missed funerals or couldn't visit loved ones in the hospital while Johnson's staff gathered for social events, Axios' Dave Lawler notes.

  • Senior civil servant Sue Gray found in a separate investigation in January that the parties at Johnson's Downing Street residence while the U.K. was under lockdown and other restrictions represented a "serious failure" to observe the standards expected of government officials.
  • She also found "failures of leadership and judgment."

Worth noting: U.K. Cabinet Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said earlier this month that Russia's invasion of Ukraine "was a reminder that the world is serious," while the lockdown parties were "fluff" and "fundamentally trivial," per the BBC.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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