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UK police to issue first 20 fines over Downing Street lockdown parties -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: An officer of the police walks out from Downing Street in London on January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photograph

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON, (Reuters) – British police announced Tuesday that they would issue 20 fines for Boris Johnson’s residence and offices that violated coronavirus lockdown regulations. This has prompted fresh demands that the prime minister resign.

After an internal investigation revealed that Johnson’s staff had enjoyed alcohol-fueled parties at Downing Street in 2020, and that the British leader was present at some of these events, police are now investigating 12.

This police operation confirmed that the unprecedented COVID-19 regulations were not followed by the officials who created them.

The recipients of fines won’t be named, but Downing Street previously stated that it would reveal the identity of prime ministers who receive them. Further fines could still be imposed by police as they continue to review evidence from the internal investigation.

The Metropolitan Police stated in a statement that they will refer to 20 fixed penalty notices for violations of Covid-19 regulations. Technically, fines will be issued by ACRO Criminal Records Office.

The statement instantly refueled the anger that had threatened Johnson earlier this year. Members within his party called for Johnson to resign and public confidence in Johnson’s leadership plunged.

“Boris Johnson’s Downing Street has been found guilty of breaking the law,” said Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party.

The culture starts at the top. “The Prime Minister is the one who takes the blame. He spent many months lying to British citizens. That’s why he must go.”

Johnson’s Office did not respond immediately.

In late 2021, the first reports of these gatherings were made. Many of them took place while people couldn’t attend funerals or bid farewell to their loved ones who had died in hospital.

Johnson stated that all rules had been followed at the time. However, he later apologized to Parliament for his attendance at one event. He said it was work-related. Queen Elizabeth then received an apology from Johnson for the second, where he claimed he believed the staff were partying on the day of her husband’s funeral.

People who are found to be in violation of COVID-19 regulations will receive fixed penalty notices. Participation in gatherings of over 15 persons carries a 800 Pound ($1,048) penalty.

According to police, they were not able to confirm the events referred to in the fixed penalties notices as this could help with the identification of individuals.

Police have distributed more than 100 questionnaires to staff as part of an investigation into the events. Johnson was also among the people who were sent such questionnaires.

The police stated earlier in the month that they have begun interviewing witnesses to their investigation.

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