UK police set to issue fines in ‘partygate’ scandal

LONDON (AP) — British police are getting ready to issue a first batch of fines over parties held by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s staff during coronavirus lockdowns.

The Metropolitan Police declined to confirm reports multiple U.K. media outlets that fines would come as soon as Tuesday, saying it wouldn’t give “a running commentary” on its investigation.

Dozens of politicians and officials have been investigated over allegations that the government flouted the rules that it imposed on the country during the pandemic.

London’s Metropolitan Police sent questionnaires to more than 100 people, including the prime minister, and interviewed witnesses as part of the investigation.

The “partygate” scandal had left Johnson’s tenure precarious before Russia launched a war in Ukraine more than a month ago that gave Britain’s politicians more urgent priorities.

Johnson’s leadership grip on power was shaken by public anger over revelations that his staff held “bring your own booze” office parties, birthday celebrations and “wine time Fridays” in 2020 and 2021 while millions in Britain were barred from meeting with friends and family because of his government’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Johnson has denied any wrongdoing, but he is alleged to have been at several of the dozen events in his 10 Downing St. office and other government buildings that are being investigated by the police.

Opponents, and some members of the governing Conservative Party, said Johnson should resign if he is issued a fine for breaking the rules.

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