Junior staff at No 10 are reportedly angry at being given fixed penalty notices – in some cases receiving multiple fines – while the PM and other senior figures avoided fresh action from Scotland Yard.
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.
No 10 confirmed on Thursday Mr Johnson had not received any penalties beyond the previous fine for his June 2020 birthday party, as the Met concluded its inquiry and issued 126 FPNs in total.
Mr Wagner said that of the six illegal events Mr Johnson is believed to have attended, Mr Johnson must have been deemed to have “attended five of them legally”.
The lawyer said that in the case of the 20 May 2020 “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden, Mr Johnson may have had a reasonable excuse in that it was his own garden.
But Mr Wagner said he was puzzled by the “inconsistent” decision-making when it came to the four leaving drinks that the PM is believed to have attended.
“The weirdness of the inconsistency is that the regulations did not really allow for different individuals to attend a gathering for different purposes,” the lawyer tweeted. “They were drafted so that *the gathering* had to be (e.g.) reasonably necessary for work.”
He added: “So for the leaving parties that the PM attended – how can one person “participate” (the wording of the regs) and get an FPN but another participates (even for a different reason) and not?”
The barrister speculated that Scotland Yard may have concluded that some of the leaving events attended briefly by the PM “must have become another kind of gathering later”.
Mr Wagner also told the BBC: “The only explanation I can think is that a gathering can turn from one thing into another,” he said. “Maybe it starts as, ‘Let’s raise a toast for our colleague and say a few words and then people stay on a drink into the evening’.
“So they may have decided that the gathering starts as one kind of gathering and then turns into another. That’s the only explanation I can think of.”
ITV reported that some No 10 staff feel Scotland Yard’s approach to the fines has not been “totally fair”.
Some are said to be feel “deeply betrayed” over the punishment for behaviour sanctioned by senior figures, and suspect some avoided fines by employing “expensive barristers”.
The PM’s official spokesperson today confirmed that neither Mr Johnson nor his wife will be receiving any further fines, saying the matter had been confirmed to No 10 by Scotland Yard.
The Met said 83 individuals were given 126 fines over gatherings held on eight dates. A total of 28 people received multiple fines, with some receiving five each.
The force said its £460,000 probe was now complete, and that it has no objection to senior civil servant Sue Gray publishing her full report.
The Met’s acting deputy commissioner Helen Ball said it was possible that some staff would still receive Partygate fines over the coming days.
“We have made some referrals today, so it is possible that people will hear in the next 24 to 48 hours,” she said.