Partygate fines: what happens if you receive more than one Covid fine - does a FPN give you a criminal record?

126 fines were issued in the Partygate investigation with 28 people receiving more than one fine

The Partygate police probe may be at an end, but the fallout continues.

The Met Police closed the inquiry after issuing 126 fines for lockdown breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall, with a total of 83 people receiving at least one fine each for attending events over eight separate days.

And the force said 28 individuals had received between two and five fines.

While Boris Johnson has been told he faces no further action and won’t receive any further fixed penalty notices (FPN), his opposite number Sir Keir Starmer is still awaiting the outcome of the Beergate probe.

But what happens when more than one FPN is issued - is it the same amount each time? Does receiving one leave you with a criminal record?

And is Sir Keir likely to be interviewed under caution in the Beergate investigation? Here’s all you need to know.

Being issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice doesn’t lead to a criminal record.

What happens when more than one FPN is issued for a lockdown breach?

NationalWorld spoke to Craig MacKenzie, Head of the High-Profile and Private Crime Division at Forbes Solicitors about what happens when a Covid fine is issued, and if the amount is fixed for subsequent breaches, or if it increases.

Explaining the process, Craig said: “Lockdown breaches usually result in Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) being issued, rather than by proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts.

“If the Police believe there is sufficient evidence to prove a breach, they will issue the FPN. The amount of the penalty varies according to the severity of the violation. It can be anything from £50 for a minor breach to £10,000 for a severe breach, such as large gatherings of more than 30 people.”

Craig said if an individual has previously received an FPN for a similar matter, the amount requested will double for a further breach.

He added: “If the FPN is paid within a certain period, typically 14 days, a person would need to only pay half. When a notice is issued and accepted by a person, it discharges any liability to be convicted of the offence.

“An individual can opt to challenge the notice by not paying, in which case, usually, proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court will be issued once the time limit lapses (usually 28 Days). The maximum penalty in the Magistrates’ Court for breaches is a fine, although, if a person fails to pay, they can be committed to prison for non-payment.”

Boris Johnson speaks during heated exchanges over the Partygate affair at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday (Picture: PA)

Does getting a FPN give you a criminal record?

While Boris Johnson may have received a £50 fine over his June 2020 birthday party for which he famously insisted he did not know he was breaching the rules - it is unlikely to have further repercussions. At least in a legal sense, though what happens politically remains to be seen.

Craig explained how an FPN affects people, saying:Merely paying an FPN does not result in a criminal conviction. Paying is not an admission of guilt or proof that a crime has been committed. Generally, a person’s character is left intact.”

And the offences which led to the fine don’t appear on a criminal record, he said:

“An ordinary person is unlikely to face any repercussions if issued with an FPN.

“If the matter goes to court and a person pleads guilty or is found guilty, then they would have a conviction, but the offences themselves are not recordable and wouldn’t appear on a standard criminal record, in the same way as a conviction for speeding wouldn’t.”

Footage emerged of Sir Keir Starmer drinking a beer at a campaign event

Will Sir Keir be interviewed under caution for Beergate?

Footage emerged of the Labour leader drinking a beer in an MP’s office after a day of campaigning for the local elections in Durham in April 2021.

At the time of the event, Covid rules meant indoor gatherings were banned except for work purposes.

The event is now subject to an investigation by Durham Police, with Sir Keir announcing he will quit if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice.

As with the Partygate inquiry, Craig believes a questionnaire is the most likely method the police will use to quiz Sir Keir.

He said: “Technically, Sir Keir Starmer could be interviewed under caution at a police station. However, I believe this to be highly unlikely.

“It is more likely that he will be sent a questionnaire that he, with his legal team’s assistance, will complete and return.”

The force’s decision to investigate marked a U-turn after mounting pressure to re-examine the beergate allegations after footage emerged of the Labour leader drinking a beer with colleagues at a constituency office in Durham.

A leaked memo indicated the beer and curry in Durham had been planned as part of his itinerary for the day, however Labour says the food was consumed between work events, meaning it was within the rules.