Fines issued over Downing Street party on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral
Downing Street staff have been issued fines for a party held in No 10 on the night before Queen Elizabeth was pictured sitting alone during the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip.
Whitehall officials confirmed fixed penalty notices had been received by some of those who attended the event on April 16 2021 in relation to what went on. Strict coronavirus restrictions were in place in England at the time.
About 30 people attended the two leaving parties which then combined into one, with staff dancing into the early hours of the morning in a basement under 10 Downing Street.
The next morning the Queen sat alone during the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, which was attended by just 30 family members in order to adhere to coronavirus restrictions.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating at least 12 government gatherings in Whitehall in 2020 and 2021 held when Covid-19 curbs were in force, including several at 10 Downing Street.
An initial 20 fixed-penalty notices were issued last week for breaches of Covid regulations, but the police said they would not name those who had received them.
Whitehall officials confirmed that Helen MacNamara, the former director of ethics in the Cabinet Office, was in the first tranche of those who received notices last week. It is understood hers relates to a leaving party held in the Cabinet Office in June 2020.
One Whitehall insider noted: “This was always a party party, never drinks at the desk. It went on till the early hours, there was a fight. It was so clear cut.”
MacNamara did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Downing Street declined to comment on the reports on Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last year that “the [Covid] guidelines were followed at all times” when media reports about gatherings were first published, but the Met has concluded that breaches of regulations had been made in the “partygate” scandal.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds argued on Sunday that individuals who had received notices should be named in the interests of public transparency. Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, he said: “I think anyone who’s been in Downing Street should be named if they have been part of this.”
He added: “There’s been so much dishonesty, so much obfuscation from the people at the top in Downing Street, from the prime minister and his immediate circle downwards, I think people just want to know what really went on.”
The Met did not comment on Monday morning and repeated that it would not name those who had been fined.
Asked whether the prime minister should resign if fined by the Met, Welsh secretary Simon Hart argued that voters wanted an apology but not resignations, adding that it would not be “appropriate” to engage in a “six-week self-indulgent leadership contest” in light of the situation in Ukraine.
“I have 65,000 constituents in west Wales, where I represent, and they are not shy in coming forward and expressing a view about this and a number of other subjects,” he told Sky News on Monday. “And throughout all of this saga of the Downing Street parties they have said one thing very clearly, and in a vast majority they say they want contrition and they want an apology, but they don’t want a resignation.”
The Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire added: ″We all make judgments that we’ve had time to reflect on and wish we’d made differently. For me personally, I think the world has moved on a considerable distance.”