Fines for Attending House Gatherings Were Dished Out on Day of Downing Street Christmas Party

Last December, on the day that the Downing Street Christmas party took place, three women were fined for attending house gatherings in London. The Times has the story.

The Metropolitan Police has ruled out an inquiry, saying there is no evidence and that it did not retrospectively investigate Covid breaches.

Last week Ami Goto, from west London, was fined £1,100 plus court costs after Westminster magistrates’ court found that she had, without reasonable excuse, participated in a gathering in a flat in Holborn, central London, on December 18th. Ebru Sen, of Sittingbourne, Kent, was fined for being at the gathering.

In a third case, Emilia Petruta-Cristea, of Wanstead, east London, was also fined £1,100 for being part of an illegal gathering at her home. An alleged house party in Ilford, east London, was among dozens of prosecutions considered by the magistrates’ court yesterday.

Sir Hugh Orde, a former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that the video of Downing Street staff, including Allegra Stratton, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman at the time, joking about the No 10 Christmas party was “prima facie evidence” of a Covid breach and that the Met should investigate. Orde told the Times that the police would not find evidence without looking.

The Met has come under criticism for its stance. In a statement on Wednesday night it said that it had examined the video and a “significant amount of correspondence” sent to police. “Based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations, the Met will not commence an investigation at this time,” the force said.

Wes Streeting, the Shadow Health Secretary, said it was “simply implausible for the police to argue there was no evidence parties took place”. He said: “The police ought to be knocking on doors, taking statements and investigating people in No 10 in the way they would my constituents or anyone else in the country. They’ve got to pursue this investigation without fear or favour and treat the prime minister and his staff as they would treat anyone else. It can’t be one rule for the prime minister and another for everyone else.”

Orde, who was also chief constable of Northern Ireland, said that Dame Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, faced a difficult decision and a hard tightrope to walk but the public perception was that ordinary people had been fined for breaches. However, he said: “You don’t do a mock interview for something that hasn’t happened.”

The Met did not rule out acting if more information emerged and said it would consider “any evidence” from an inquiry by Simon Case, the cabinet secretary. Orde said he suspected that the cabinet secretary’s inquiry would root out more evidence and that the Met would be forced to make a move.

Worth reading in full.

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