Tory ministers have contradicted Downing Street by accepting 20 people fined over partygate have broken the law.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and now International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan have both said the Metropolitan Police’s decision to issue 20 fines linked to the covid parties meant lockdown laws were broken in Whitehall.
It comes as Boris Johnson’s office refused to accept that 20 people who have been fined for breaking the law broke the law.
On Tuesday, the police in London announced it would hand out 20 fixed penalty notices to people who attended parties in Downing Street and Whitehall during covid lockdowns.
Asked if the Justice Secretary misspoke when he said there were clear breaches of the law, Trevelyan told Sky News: «No, he is the Justice Secretary and he has set out a position.
«I think if you or I get a fine, we hopefully pay it and move on from there. And I hope, and I assume, that those who have been fined by the police will pay their fines and that will be the punishment that they have accepted.»
Pressed on whether 20 fines being issued meant there were 20 instances of people breaking the law, she said: «Well, that’s right. They’ve broken the regulations that were set in the Covid Act, and police deem that that was what they did and therefore they’ve been fined accordingly.»
Asked why the PM would not say this, she said: «Because, as I say, he wants to wait until the whole process of the police review has been done.»
During the media rounds on Wednesday the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab also accepted the 20 people fined had broken the law.
He said: «Clearly there were breaches of the regulations – that’s the only thing that could warrant the 20 fixed penalty notices.»
The view of the two ministers is at odds with Downing Street who refused to accept the law was broken.
During a briefing with journalists yesterday Johnson’s official spokesman and his Press Secretary answered a number of questions from journalists on the issue.
One journalist asked: «Does the PM agree with Dominic Raab that breaches of the regulations are the only thing that could warrant fixed penalty notices?»
The reply: «The Prime Minister said he respects the position of the Met, equally that this investigation is ongoing… you will hear more from him at the conclusion.»
A journalist pressed the officials: «He respects the position – does he agree with it?»
An official replied: «As I say, my position hasn’t changed from yesterday.»
A journalist tried again: «He doesn’t agree with Dominic Raab on that then, who explicitly said rules were broken and the law was broken? That’s something you wouldn’t bring yourself to say yesterday. Are you still maintaining that position, or do you agree with the Justice Secretary?»
Downing Street replied: «We are maintaining that position.»
Another journalist asked: «So you disagree with the Justice Secretary on whether the law has been broken?»
The reply: «You’ve got my position from yesterday – it hasn’t changed.»
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