Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak have received citations from the police for holding parties at government premises during the lockdown. Johnson acknowledged Tuesday that he had received the penalty notice from the police and apologized to the public for his actions. Johnson did not specify the amount he paid.
The Metropolitan Police in London said the fines given to Johnson and Sunak were just two of the more than 50 fines they issued to people that took part in or organized illegal gatherings on government premises while the country was under strict pandemic restrictions. Authorities said they issued the fines under their "Operation Hillman" investigation.
The citation made against Johnson effectively makes him the first Prime Minister in the UK to be found guilty of breaking the law. During the initial investigations, Johnson had denied any wrongdoing and claimed that they adhered to COVID-19 rules during all of the gatherings. News of the illegal parties sparked outrage throughout the country when it was first released.
Sunak also issued an apology on Tuesday, stating that he had already paid the fine and was deeply regretful for his actions. He added that as public figures, they should be the ones to set an example, and they are not exempt from the rules imposed by the government.
Police claimed that at least two gatherings were held by Johnson at his cabinet office and at his residence. He held a birthday celebration at his office on June 19, which was attended by more than 30 people. Later in the evening, he held another party at his residence, which was attended by his family and friends.
Sources with knowledge of the matter said the party was arranged by Johnson's wife, Carrie, who invited everyone within Johnson's inner circle. Johnson said that he did not think they were breaking any rules when they held the party at his office. However, he said he respects the police's findings and the outcome of their investigation.
The "Partygate" scandal, which broke out late last year, has posed the greatest threat to Johnson's position to date. Even before Tuesday's news of a police fine, revelations that the Prime Minister attended many parties sparked outrage and calls for him to step down.
Johnson's handling of the issue was also criticized. The Prime Minister first denied reports of unlawful gatherings, claiming that no parties had taken place. When photographs from these gatherings began to circulate in the UK media, he claimed he was unaware of them and expressed his indignation. He apologized after another photo surfaced of him and his wife apparently attending one of these parties but claimed he was attending a work-related event.