Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab accepted the people handed fixed penalty notices for Downing Street parties would have broken the law – after No10 bizarrely dodged the question
Boris Johnson’s deputy today finally admitted 20 staff broke the law over Covid lockdown parties – after No10 bizarrely tried to avoid saying they did.
Dominic Raab confirmed the unknown people handed fixed penalty notices over gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall had breached Covid regulations.
Scotland Yard yesterday said it would hand out 20 fines to people.
While those fined did not include Boris Johnson, police warned more penalties could be yet to come.
Yet the PM still appeared to be in denial. Pressed over Mr Johnson’s view, his spokesman said: “It’s for the Met to make that judgment, rather than the Prime Minister.”
Today Mr Raab, who is the Justice Secretary and once prosecuted war crimes, accepted the 20 fined people broke the law.
Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)
Asked if they had done so, he told Sky News: “Yes, inevitably fixed penalty notices [are] for those who have breached the regulations.
“And we stand by and support the fact that there should be the Met process, the Sue Gray process, and accountability for this.”
Later he told the BBC: “Clearly there were breaches of the regulations – that’s the only thing that could warrant the 20 fixed penalty notices”.
Yet Mr Raab refused to accept Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament when he told MPs on December 1: “All guidance was followed completely in No10.”
Despite Mr Johnson personally attending several of the gatherings, Mr Raab told Times Radio: “No, I don’t think there was an intention to mislead. The Prime Minister in good faith updated Parliament on what he knows.
“Of course, precisely because there were questions around this, the Sue Gray inquiry was set up and precisely because it was right and proper to enable the Met to conduct the investigation that has taken place.
“Of course we accept that those things wouldn’t have happened if there weren’t legitimate questions that have been made.”
He also mirrored No10 in refusing to say Boris Johnson should or would resign if he is fined.
The PM hosted around 200 MPs for dinner at a central London hotel as he attempted to bolster his leadership and draw a line under the Partygate scandal.
Politicians were set to dine on salmon tart, chicken thighs and a chocolate praline dessert, washed down with fine wines.
Top Tories walked past families who lost loved ones to Covid, who held a candlelit vigil in protest outside London’s Park Plaza hotel and shouted at MPs: “Off to another party, are we?”
One Tory MP, Michael Fabricant, told the waiting media the party would be “a lot of fun” adding: “It’s great, we had a photo taken, it was absolutely super”.