Downing Street parties: Covid rule-breakers handed £400,000 in fines in May 2020 - as PM attended BYOB party

Police officers in England fined Covid rule breakers nearly £400,000 as Boris Johnson attended a ‘BYOB’ party

<p>Police officers fined Covid rule breakers in England nearly £400,000 in May 2020 (image: NationalWorld/Kim Mogg)</p>

Police officers fined Covid rule breakers in England nearly £400,000 in May 2020 (image: NationalWorld/Kim Mogg)

Nearly £400,000 worth of fines for Covid breaches were handed out during the same month the Prime Minister attended a ‘bring your own booze’ event at No 10, NationalWorld can reveal.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the ACRO Criminal Records Office recorded £390,740 worth of fines were dished out by police in England - throughout May 2020.

It covers the same time frame where Boris Johnson allegedly attended two lockdown-breaking events in Downing Street - including the wine and cheese gathering (15 May) and BYOB party (20 May).

The 20 May “bring your own booze” event in the No 10 garden, which Mr Johnson attended for 25 minutes, apparently believing it was a work event, is now under investigation by police.

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‘If he had any decency he would resign’

Fran Hall from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK lost her husband - a former police officer - to Covid in October 2020.

She said he was completely committed to justice and would have been “appalled” by the Prime Minister’s actions.

She said: “The Sue Gray investigation has turned into a circus.

“The reality is that it’s clear that the prime minister broke his own laws blatantly and regularly, whilst families across the country stuck with them and suffered greatly for doing so.

“If he had any decency he would do the right thing and resign - but that quite clearly isn’t going to happen.

“This sorry saga has proven that families like mine can only rely on an independent, statutory inquiry which looks at the government’s entire handling of the pandemic and puts us at its heart to get the answers we need.

“The very least that can happen now is for that to begin ASAP.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the technology centre at Hopwood Hall College on February 3, 2022 (Photo by Jason Cairnduff-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

How many fines did police hand out in May 2020? 

Police forces in England handed out a total number of 5,606 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) in May 2020.

If all of the penalties were paid on time, it would have cost offenders £390,740.

A FPN is an alternative to prosecution before the Magistrates’ court and includes a fine.

Those fined by FPN could choose to not pay - though it might have led to a bigger slap on the wrist with the worst case scenario being facing criminal proceedings.

How much were people fined in May 2020?

During May 2020, there was only one law in England for breaching Covid rules called the Health Protection Regulations 2020.

Between 1 May to 12 May the fine amount was £60 for a breach of Covid restrictions - which was increased from 13 May to £100 per fine.

During the first 12 days, 4,229 fines were imposed by officers up and down England worth £253,740 (if paid on time).

For the rest of the month, 1,377 penalties were enforced - forcing offenders to fork out £137,700 between them.

The top offending location overall was Dorset, by number of fines issued.

During May, Dorset Police slapped offenders who broke Covid rules in the southwest seaside destination with 559 fines.

Specific legislation relating to face coverings, self-isolation fines and international travel bans came into force in June - before £10,000 fines were imposed from August.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick arrives at Scotland Yard on January 25, 2022 as the ‘partygate’ probe was announced (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

What happened on 15 and 20 May 2020?

On 25 January 2022, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who had long resisted calls to investigate ‘partygate’ reports at Downing Street, announced her officers had opened a criminal probe.

Sue Gray’s initial report published on 31 January confirmed the London force is investigating 12 separate gatherings to find out whether coronavirus lockdown laws were broken.

The Met Police is not investigating the gathering on 15 May but has confirmed a criminal probe into the gathering on 20 May.

The ACRO Criminal Records Office told NationalWorld that 101 and 45 FPNs respectively were handed out to the general public who broke the rules over these two days.

On 15 May 2020, around 20 staff - including Mr Johnson, Carrie Johnson and Dominic Cummings - attended the Downing Street garden for an event that included cheese and wine.

It came just hours after the then-health secretary Matt Hancock held a press conference and told the public to “stay at home as much as is possible” and “stick with the rules, keep an eye on your family and don’t take risks”.

Meanwhile on 20 May, emails seen by ITV News showed the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds inviting 100 members of staff to “socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden”.

Reynolds encouraged those attending to “bring your own booze”.A message from the editor: Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.