The Metropolitan Police has announced that the number of fines handed out to government employees for lawbreakers held during the Covid-19 pandemic has doubled to more than 100.
Scotland Yard said last month that 50 referrals had been made to the criminal record for fixed fine (FPN) fines on parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
In an update on Thursday, Met police said the Operation Hillman team had now recommended 100 fines. Police said investigations into 12 separate events are still ongoing.
It is clear that Boris Johnson has not been fined again, having been punished last month for his rule-breaking No. 10 birthday party in June 2020.
The Liberals said the news of fines exceeding 100 showed the “shocking scale” of rule-breaking in government.
“Boris Johnson stood up in Parliament and said Covid rules were followed at all times in No 10,” said leader Sir Ed Davey. “Now 100 fines have been handed out… it shows the shocking scale of Johnson’s Downing Street violations and the magnitude of his lies.”
The SNP’s deputy leader in Westminster, Kirsten Oswald, said the “massive magnitude of the law’s breaking is staggering”, adding: “Boris Johnson should have resigned a long time ago because of the offending parties – it’s beyond shameful that he desperately clings to .”
Police are believed to have handed out fines to Downing Street staff during a Christmas party at number 10 on December 18, 2020.
The celebratory bash – which was held while London adhered to strict Tier 3 measures – is said to have been attended by dozens of the prime minister’s staff.
Mr Johnson was forced to address the issue of the December 2020 bash after the explosive leak of a video in which staff faked a press conference and joked about a Christmas party.
It led to the resignation of government official Allegra Stratton and the eventual announcement of an investigation by top government official Sue Gray.
Scotland Yard would not confirm whether fines have already been handed out at the Christmas gathering or any other specific celebration, but the December 18, 2020 event is one of 12 that Operation Hillman detectives are investigating.
Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all handed regular fines in April at a birthday party for the Prime Minister in the Downing Street cabinet room.
The prime minister previously said it “didn’t occur to him” that the gathering to mark his 56th birthday was a violation of his Covid rules – but he “now humbly accepts” that he was breaking the laws.
It was previously reported that on November 13, 2020, some government officials had received new questionnaires from the police regarding a party leaving for the prime minister’s former communications director, Lee Cain.
But Mr Johnson told Times Radio earlier this month that he wasn’t among those to get one: “I don’t comment on this sort of thing in general, but the answer to that is no, not yet, or certainly not as far as I know.”
A cabinet that leaves in June 2020 would also have resulted in fines. Former Ethics Chief Helen MacNamara admitted she had been fined for the event.
Scotland Yard also reportedly issued fines to government officials who attended a party at number 10 on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last April.
Downing Street is bracing for Mrs Gray’s full, damning report on the scandal once the Met’s police investigation is concluded, after only a brief summary was published in January.
Mr Johnson is also still facing an investigation by MPs on the House of Commons Privileges Committee into whether he misled parliament with comments that “all guidelines were followed” at number 10.