Downing Street parties: Minister says now not the time for ‘self-indulgent leadership contest’ – even if Boris Johnson is fined over partygate

Now is not the time for a “self-indulgent leadership contest” if Boris Johnson is fined over the partygate scandal, a minister has said.

The war in Ukraine has taken the focus off the issue of lockdown breaches in Downing Street, but it was back in the headlines last week after the Metropolitan Police began issuing fixed penalty notices.

Asked if the prime minister should resign if he’s fined, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart told Sky News he thinks “the world has moved on a considerable distance”.

He said most of his constituents “want an apology, but they don’t want a resignation”.

His comments came as it emerged that the Met have issued fines relating to Downing Street events held the night before the Duke of Edinburgh‘s funeral last year.

Boris Johnson’s role in the partygate scandal is under scrutiny once again

Former ethics chief reportedly fined

Last week, Scotland Yard issued 20 fixed penalty notices to people who attended lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Reports in The Daily Telegraph suggest one of those is the government’s former ethics chief Helen MacNamara.

The newspaper reported that Ms MacNamara received a £50 fine on Friday in connection with a leaving do held in the Cabinet Office on 18 June 2020 to mark the departure of a private secretary.

There were said to be about 20 people present, with alcohol consumed.

Ms MacNamara was director general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2018 to 2020, the purpose of her role being to ensure the highest standards of propriety, integrity, and governance within government.

Several reports say people have also received fines linked with a gathering that took place on the eve of the Prince Philip’s funeral last year.

Read more: All you need to know about the Met’s partygate investigation

The Queen sat apart from her family at the service in Windsor. Pic AP
The Queen sat apart from her family at the service in Windsor. Pic: AP

What happened the night before Prince Philip’s funeral?

It was reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on 16 April 2021, as the country was in mourning after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

One was for former Downing Street director of communications James Slack and the second for a photographer, and they were later reported to have merged.

Prince Philip died on 9 April 2021 and his funeral was on 17 April in Windsor.

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Number 10 staff were said to have partied until the early hours of the morning in a seven-hour drinking session with takeaway pizzas.

Some are said to have used a slide belonging to Wilfred, the one-year-old son of Boris and Carrie Johnson.

The Queen was pictured alone at St George’s Chapel the next day, sitting socially distanced from her family, as she said goodbye to her husband.

Number 10 previously said an apology had been extended to Buckingham Palace.

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PM told he’s ‘toast’ if fined

Met investigating 12 events

The Met are investigating 12 events that allegedly broke lockdown rules in Westminster, including as many as six that Mr Johnson is said to have attended, and has sent out more than 100 questionnaires and so far issued 20 fines.

The prime minister has not been fined in the first tranche of fixed penalty notices, which are worth £50.

Number 10 has said it will confirm if Mr Johnson or Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, are fined.

The PM is not said to have attended either the 18 June 2020 gathering or the events on 16 April 2021.

The Met Police declined to comment. The Cabinet Office also said it had nothing to add.

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