July 4, 2022

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Minister begrudgingly admits Covid laws were broken – despite No 10’s refusal

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A government minister has admitted Covid laws were broken after the Metropolitan Police issued 20 fixed-penalty notices linked to partygate scandal – despite No 10’s refusal.

Repeatedly pressed on the issue, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, eventually replied “that’s right” when asked if laws were broken in Whitehall.

It comes after Boris Johnson was at odds with his deputy, Dominic Raab, over the scandal, as he refused to to endorse the justice secretary’s admission that Covid regulations were broken.

Mr Raab’s comments followed 24 hours in which No 10 had refused to accept the decision of the Met police to issue 20 fines for lockdown breaches amounted to proof of law-breaking.

During a committee yesterday, the prime minister repeatedly ducked questions on the issue, stressing he would not comment until Scotland Yard had concluded its probe into 12 events held in No 10.

Quizzed on whether Mr Raab “misspoke” after he suggested on Wednesday morning there were breaches of the law, Ms Trevelyan told Sky News: “No, he is the justice secretary and he has set out a position.

“I think if you or I get a fine, we hopefully pay it and move on from there. And I hope, and I assume, that those who have been fined by the police will pay their fines and that will be the punishment that they have accepted.”

Pressed on whether 20 fines being issued meant there were 20 instances of people breaking the law, she said: “Well, that’s right. They’ve broken the regulations that were set in the Covid Act, and police deem that that was what they did and therefore they’ve been fined accordingly.”

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Asked why the PM would not say this, she added: “Because, as I say, he wants to wait until the whole process of the police review has been done.”

Under initial questioning, Ms Trevelyan declined to answer the question of whether the fines amount to law-breaking, echoing the prime minister’s view that she wanted to allow the force to continue their work without “interference and commentary”.

“We will see when the full, completed report is done and then Sue Gray will be able to publish hers and we’ll be able to discuss it in detail,” she added.

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