Partygate ends mean police believe law was broken, policing minister suggests

The policing minister has appeared to back the view of two Cabinet colleagues in stating that the issuing of partygate ends is evidence that police believe the law was broken in Number 10.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and International Trade Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan both accepted this week that coronavirus rules had been breached in Downing Street after the first batch of fines were ordered in relation to the Metropolitan Police probe.

Speaking on Friday, Kit Malthouse, a minister in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, said it is fair to say a fixed-penalty notice (FPN) signals police feel an unlawful act has been committed.

A fixed-penalty notice means police have a reasonable belief that you’ve broken the law

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse

The Prime Minister has so far dodged the question on whether receipt of a fine would equate to law breaking, with No 10 refusing to be drawn into the discussion until the inquiry has finished.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Malthouse said: “A fixed-penalty notice means police have a reasonable belief that you’ve broken the law – you still have a right to challenge it if you want.

“Having said that, the police practice is not routinely to release the names of those who receive fixed penalties, and I don’t see why that rule should be waived for those people who may or may not be in receipt of it in Downing Street .”

Mr Malthouse, who attends Cabinet, said he has not personally received a fine in relation to the Scotland Yard probe, and he would declare it if he did.

Minister for Crime and Policing Kit Malthouse (James Manning/PA)

(PA Wire)

Around 20 FPNs were expected to be handed out in the first tranche, but it is not believed the Prime Minister is among the recipients.

Mr Malthouse, a close ally of Boris Johnson, acknowledged that while police do not routinely name those who are issued for purposes, the situation is “different” for politicians.

“If I got a fixed-penalty notice, I would tell you,” he told LBC.

It comes after Mr Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, said Government ministers will “inevitably” have to disclose it if they are fined.

No 10 has so far only promised to confirm if Mr Johnson or Cabinet Secretary Simon Case are given a fixed-penalty notice.

Mr Malthouse was asked on LBC whether, as someone who has known the Prime Minister for two decades and who previously served as one of his deputy mayors in London, Mr Johnson is likely to confirm if he received a fine.

The first batch of fines in connection with the police No 10 partygate investigation were expected to be issued this week (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(PA Wire)

Mr Malthouse replied: “It is a hypothetical question, but I think if he did, he probably would, yes.”

During his appearance at the Liaison Committee on Wednesday, the PM told senior MPs he was “sure you would know” if he had been fined as part of this week’s FPNs.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for the Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, to be named if she receives a monetary penalty in relation to the review of claims of lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Sir Keir told Sky News he agrees with the “general argument” that families of MPs should not be dragged into political rows.

But he added: “There’s a huge difference between the situation of the wife of the Prime Minister breaking the rules made by the Prime Minister and any other situation.”

When asked if he agrees Mrs Johnson should publicly declare any possible punishment, Mr Malthouse said that it is a matter for her.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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