London’s Metropolitan Police said earlier Tuesday they had issued more than 50 fines as part of their “Operation Hillman” investigation into gatherings held on government premises in Downing Street and Whitehall while the rest of the country was living under strict pandemic restrictions. Revelations of the parties sparked national outrage.

The police fines are confirmation that Johnson and Sunak broke Covid-19 laws created by their own government — even though the Prime Minister previously denied some parties were held and insisted all guidance was followed. The penalty makes Johnson the first sitting UK Prime Minister to be found guilty of breaking the law.

It was unclear which gatherings Johnson and Sunak were facing fines over; the government spokesman said they had no further details as of now. Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, will also receive a fine, her spokesperson told CNN.

The so-called “Partygate” scandal, which emerged in late 2021, has sparked the most serious threat to Johnson’s premiership to date. Revelations that the Prime Minister attended several parties had already prompted furious calls for him to resign even before Tuesday’s announcement of a police fine.

Johnson’s handling of the scandal also sparked condemnation. The Prime Minister initially rebuffed allegations of illegal gatherings by saying there were no parties. When images from these gatherings started to appear in UK media, he said he didn’t know about them and that he was outraged. After another image emerged showing him and his wife allegedly attending one such party, he apologized, but said he thought he was attending “a work event.”
The police launched an investigation into the string of gatherings after a January report by senior civil servant Sue Gray, commissioned by the government, condemned “a serious failure” to observe the standards of government.

The Gray report said the police were investigating at least 12 events — including at least two Johnson attended, and a third held in his flat that he previously told lawmakers did not happen. The police said later it was investigating events taking place on eight separate dates between May 2020 and April 2021.

Boris Johnson condemned over 'failures of leadership' in 'Partygate' reportBoris Johnson condemned over 'failures of leadership' in 'Partygate' report

The Met said in a statement it was given more than 300 photos and 500 pages of information to review during the investigations.

Reacting to Tuesday’s development, the main opposition Labour party leader Keir Starmer immediately demanded that Johnson and Sunak step down. “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better,” Starmer tweeted.

London mayor Sadiq Khan also called for Johnson to quit, saying “a Prime Minister who breaks the laws his Government makes and then lies about it isn’t fit for office.”

“Families made huge sacrifices and obeyed the law. Many said their last goodbyes to loved ones on the phone while the Prime Minister partied,” Khan added in a statement on Facebook.

According to ministerial rules, if a government minister breaches the ministerial code, it is expected that they should resign from their job. The code includes the “overarching duty” of ministers to comply with the law.

The Met Police said the investigation into illegal gatherings in Downing Street continues.

CNN’s Luke McGee and Max Foster contributed reporting.

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