London’s Metropolitan Police said earlier Tuesday they had issued more than 50 fines as part of their “Operation Hillman” investigation of assemblies held at government offices in Downing Street and Whitehall, while the rest of the country lived under severe pandemic restrictions. Revelations by the parties triggered national outrage.
On Tuesday night, Johnson apologized for violating the lockdown rules, saying he had paid the fine issued by the Metropolitan Police.
“Today, I received a firm fine from the Metropolitan Police regarding an event in Downing Street on June 19, 2020. Let me say right away that I paid the fine and I once again give a full apology,” Johnson said on Sky News. He did not disclose the amount he was fined.
Sunak also apologized Tuesday night, saying he paid the fine, and said in a statement reported by the PA Media news agency: “I deeply regret the frustration and anger that has been caused and I am sorry.”
“I understand that for people in public office, the rules must be applied strictly to maintain public confidence. I respect the decision that has been made,” Sunak said.
CNN-affiliated ITV has previously reported that two gatherings were held to celebrate Johnson’s birthday: one attended by as many as 30 people, held at the Cabinet Office on the afternoon of June 19, and another the evening hosted by Johnson’s residence and attended by family friends.
A source working in Downing Street at the time had previously confirmed to CNN that the gathering took place that day and that it was hosted by his wife Carrie, who spearheaded the birthday song.
The meeting was largely attended by what was considered to be Johnson’s inner circle at the time, CNN understands.
Johnson told Sky News on Tuesday that he did not believe he was breaking the shutdown rules when he attended the rally in his office that day.
“Honestly at the time, it did not occur to me that this could have been a breach of the rules. But of course the police have found something else and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation,” he said.
Johnson added that he understood the reaction people may have to his actions, saying: “I understand the anger that many will feel that I myself fell short when it came to complying with the same rules as that government. , I lead, had introduced to protect the public. “
He also offered his explanation of the day’s events, saying that among many “engagements on a day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the office room shortly after noon with kindly passing on their good wishes.”
The so-called “Partygate” scandal, which surfaced in late 2021, has unleashed the most serious threat to Johnson’s premiership to date. Revelations that the Prime Minister was attending several parties had already before Tuesday’s announcement of a police fine triggered furious calls for him to resign.
The Gray report said police investigated at least 12 events – including at least two Johnson attended, and a third held in his apartment, which he previously told lawmakers did not happen. Police later said it was investigating events that took place on eight separate dates between May 2020 and April 2021.
The Met said in a statement that it was given more than 300 photos and 500 pages of information to review during the investigations.
Campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK called on Johnson and Sunak to resign, describing their behavior as “truly shameful.”
In a series of tweets Tuesday, the group said: “After all, it’s still incredibly painful that @BorisJohnson partyed and broke his own lockdown rules while we were unable to be by our loved ones’ side in their dying moments, or in miserable funerals with only a handful of people. ”
“We followed the rules. The fact that @BorisJohnson and @RishiSunak lied about it, and would have kept doing it if the police had not intervened, is really shameless. They broke the law. But even worse, they took When we met the Prime Minister in the @ downingstreet garden – the same one where they had these parties – he looked us in the eye and said he had done everything he could to save our loved ones. now that it was a lie. “
The main opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer also immediately demanded that Johnson and Sunak resign. “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better,” Starmer tweeted.
Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon also called on Johnson to resign.
“Boris Johnson must resign. He broke the law and repeatedly lied to Parliament about it. The fundamental values of integrity and decency – essential to the proper functioning of any parliamentary democracy – require him to leave. And he should take his place. touch Chancellor with him, “she said on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Johnson avoided the topic of resigning, saying instead, “Like I said, right now I will be able to move on and deliver the mandate I have,” adding that his priority was to “move on. in providing for people in this country. “
“Of course I take full responsibility for everything,” he said, adding that he “could not be everywhere at once.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also called on Johnson to resign, saying “a prime minister who breaks the laws his government makes and then lies about it is not fit for office.”
“Families made great sacrifices and obeyed the law. Many said their final goodbye to their loved ones on the phone while the Prime Minister was partying,” Khan added in a statement on Facebook.
If a minister violates the Ministerial Act, it is expected according to the ministerial rules that they must resign from their jobs. The code includes the minister’s ‘overall duty’ to comply with the law.
Met police said the investigation into illegal gatherings in Downing Street is continuing.
CNN’s Luke McGee, Max Foster, Lindsay Isaac, Sugam Pokharel and Jorge Engels contributed reporting.