Partygate: Johnson faces no further action as police investigation concludes
Boris Johnson is among dozens of Downing Street figures who have been warned they will be named in Sue Gray’s long-awaited report into the Partygate scandal.
Letters are understood to have been sent by Ms Gray’s team on Friday to around 30 people, though they are not being informed of the conclusions of the report that is expected to be published in full next week.
The prime minister today refused to apologise for the mass gatherings in Downing Street during lockdown after the Metropolitan Police announced their investigation into the events had resulted in a total of 126 fines.
Appearing in public for the first time since the Metropolitan Police concluded its investigation into the events, Mr Johnson did not directly respond when asked if he would say sorry to the public for the behaviour of himself and his workers.
He instead replied: “I’m very grateful to the Met for their work, I’m thankful for everything they’ve done.”
Welcome to The Independent’s live blog on UK politics for Friday, 20 May 2022.
Namita Singh20 May 2022 04:53
Downing Street staff furious as Johnson escapes Partygate fines
Downing Street staff who received fines for attending the same lockdown parties as Boris Johnson have reacted with fury after the prime minister escaped further sanctions on Thursday.
“It’s a joke,” one No 10 source told The Independent. “He told people to ‘let their hair down’ and enjoy their drinks which they’d earned for ‘beating back the virus’.”
They said the prime minister had participated in socialising with officials and advisers in a manner that had been regarded as an endorsement of partying after work.
“He’s a man of little or no integrity,” they added, referring to his handling of the Partygate affair.
Read the details in this joint report by Anna Isaac, Adam Forrest and Lizzie Dearden:
Namita Singh20 May 2022 05:27
Legal expert questions ‘odd’ fines for junior No 10
A leading expert on Covid laws has questioned the “inconsistency” of the Metropolitan Police fines handed out to Downing Street staff while Boris Johnson escaped further punishment.
Describing the outcome of the Partygate inquiry as a “bit odd”, barrister Adam Wagner said it appeared that Mr Johnson had avoided fines despite attending illegal leaving drink events.
“I would be pretty peeved if I was an official who got an FPN for participating in what the Met clearly deemed to be an illegal gathering … but others who participated didn’t,” the expert tweeted.
My colleague Adam Forrest has the details:
Namita Singh20 May 2022 05:40
‘US won’t agree to UK trade deal if Johnson discards protocol’
The leader of the US House of Representatives said it was “deeply concerning” the British government was planning to unilaterally end protocol checks previously agreed with the EU.
Ms Pelosi said she had previously told Mr Johnson and foreign secretary Liz Truss that if they choose to “undermine” the Good Friday Agreement, then Congress “cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the UK”.
You can find the details in this report by Adam Forrest:
Namita Singh20 May 2022 05:55
Johnson overhauls No 10 as he awaits Sue Gray report
The prime minister has overhauled his Downing Street operations following the conclusion of Metropolitan Police inquiry into lockdown-busting parties.
Boris Johnson’s bid to restore order at No 10 saw the government announce changes that will “enhance the support that is offered to the prime minister and to the cabinet”.
The shake-up will involve creating a streamlined team of officials working for the prime minister under the leadership of his permanent secretary.
A UK government spokesman said: “As we set out earlier in the year, steps are being taken to further strengthen the operation of both No 10 and the Cabinet Office so they are best placed to deliver for the public now and in the future.
“Work to deliver these plans is ongoing.”
It comes ahead of the publication of Sue Gray’s separate report into Covid lockdown gatherings, expected next week.
Namita Singh20 May 2022 06:10
Irish premier to hold talks with Stormont leaders
His visit comes in the wake of the UK government’s controversial move to act unilaterally to scrap parts of the protocol.
While welcoming foreign secretary Liz Truss’s announcement on Tuesday to legislate to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal treaty it struck with the EU, the DUP has said it will not immediately lift its powersharing boycott.
Namita Singh20 May 2022 06:21
MPs concerned by ‘backlog’ of complaints over NHS and government services
MPs are concerned about a “significant backlog” at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), an independent body acting as the “last resort” for individuals’ complaints about NHS and government services, a new report warns.
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) attributed the disruption to the Covid pandemic, as it reviewed the performance of PHSO from 2020-2021.
As of March 2021, the body is faced with an unallocated backlog of over 3,000 cases, found the committee as it added that the impact of the pandemic on the NHS and its own staff “resulted in a queue of cases waiting to be considered at the end of year”.
While the PHSO has requested extra resources to boost the number of case workers, the MPs on the committee said they “remain concerned” about the impact of delays on those using the ombudsman’s services.
Namita Singh20 May 2022 06:44
Iceland to introduce 10 per cent discount for senior Brits
Iceland is set to introduce 10 per cent for seniors as Britons struggle with the rising cost of living, making it the first UK supermarket to introduce such a discount.
The company announced it was giving discounted rates to customers aged over 60 from 24 May, with the discount to apply every Tuesday with no minimum spending.
Customers will need to show proof of age to be able to redeem the discount, which would be available in-store at Iceland and The Food Warehouse branches.
The company is also exploring a national rollout of £30 vouchers to those receiving state pension, following a regional trial over Christmas.
Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland, said: “We have a long history of supporting our over 60s customers, such as when we launched ‘Elderly Hour’ at the height of the pandemic.
Namita Singh20 May 2022 07:03
Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty make first appearance in Sunday Times Rich List
The chancellor and his wife have made the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time with their joint forecast at £730m, as Russian billionaires tumbled down this year’s rankings.
On Friday morning, they emerged at 222 in the list, largely as a result of Ms Murty’s £690m stake in Infosys.
It comes after the Chancellor and his wife’s finances have come under intense scrutiny in recent months, after The Independent revealed Ms Murty’s non-dom tax status, which had potentially saved her millions in taxes.
She later agreed to pay foreign taxes on her UK income and Mr Sunak was cleared of breaching the ministerial code by Boris Johnson’s standards adviser after considering the tax affairs.
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 07:27
Boris Johnson ‘has acted on’ Sue Gray’s report, Raab says
Dominic Raab has said he welcomes the conclusion of the Metropolitan Police probe into the Partygate scandal, and insisted that Boris Johnson “has acted on” Sue Gray’s interim report.
“We welcome the conclusion of the police investigation, or at least the Metropolitan Police investigation. I think it’s important to have the transparency and accountability that goes with that,” the justice secretary told Times Radio.
“I can’t comment on the relationship between the Met and Sue Gray. That would be wrong for me to do, particularly as Justice Secretary. All I can say is that we wait to get a final report. Obviously we’ve already had the interim report, and the prime minister has acted on it – the overhaul at number 10.
“We will, at the minute we get the final report, publish it as soon as possible. And the prime minister said he will come to the House of Commons and take questions so that we get have that additional tier of transparency and accountability.”
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 07:57