09 November 2023

Johnson demanded ‘bigger fines’ be emphasised, note of ‘crushing irony’ shows

09 November 2023

Boris Johnson demanded that “bigger fines” be emphasised as he unwound lockdown restrictions, according to a handwritten note exhibiting “crushing irony” that has been shown to the Covid Inquiry.

As prime minister, he ordered colleagues to make larger fixed-penalty notices and enforcement the “overriding message” of opening up in the summer of 2020.

His premiership was terminated by Tory colleagues in part because of the rule-breaking parties in No 10, which earned Mr Johnson his own fine.

The inquiry was shown a note to the prime minister discussing the August 15 2020 reopenings during former home secretary Dame Priti Patel’s evidence.

Then, a handwritten note from Mr Johnson said: “I agree with the openings but the OVERRIDING MESSAGE should be about tougher enforcement and BIGGER FINES.”

Lead counsel to the inquiry Hugo Keith KC asked Dame Priti to put aside the “crushing irony” of Mr Johnson’s note as he asked her about putting the message into practice.

Mr Johnson had already attended the bash to mark his 56th birthday in the Cabinet Room on June 19 2020 that earned him a fine.

His wife Carrie Johnson also paid a fine, as did then-chancellor Rishi Sunak.

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