From the Partygate scandal breaking in December to the results of Sue Gray’s enquiry in February, it feels as though years have passed since we first learned about Downing Street’s slew of lockdown celebrations. But as fines are at long last being doled out to officials, exactly who is being punished for Partygate?
Even Sue Gray is being kept in the dark about exactly which Downing Street parties have resulted in fines after Metropolitan police investigation. But the police have announced that they’re issuing 100 referrals for penalties for people they have ‘reasonable belief’ attended gatherings in the PM's offices and residence when it was illegal.
Despite keeping most people's names under wraps, Number 10 representatives have announced that Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Carrie Johnson will be fined over Partygate. Otherwise, officials have been advised to keep their penalties secret from the public and their line managers.
Despite this advice, the Government’s former ethics chief Helen MacNamara was also named in a leak as one of the people who were fined for attending one of the Partygate gatherings. ‘I am sorry for the error of judgement I have shown. I have accepted and paid the fixed penalty notice,’ she said in a statement.
Who is Helen Macnamara?
MacNamara is the former deputy cabinet secretary and served as the director general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2018 to 2020. In this role, MacNamara was meant to ensure that the highest standards of integrity were upheld in the Government.
In March 2020, she was promoted from ethics chief to deputy cabinet secretary but left to work for the Premier League on January 21st—days before ITV reported Boris Johnson’s birthday gathering at Number 10.
Why was Helen Macnamara fined?
The Daily Telegraph has reported that MacNamara was handed a £50 fine in relation to a leaving do at the Cabinet Office on June 18, 2020, which was held for the departure of Hannah Young—a former home affairs policy adviser who was moving to New York to be a deputy consul general.
According to the reports, there were 20 people at boozy gathering - and Macnamara provided the karaoke machine. During the night there was a drunken brawl between two attendees and the gathering continued until around 3am.
What were the lockdown rules on June 18?
On June 18, 2020 when the gathering took place, Matt Hancock gave his daily coronavirus briefing and told the public: ‘If you get a call or message from NHS Test and Trace, the most important thing is please do your bit to protect your community, to protect your loved ones and to protect the NHS by following their instructions.’
At that time the lockdown rules were that you could have an outdoor public gathering with six people and with one other person inside. Larger gatherings were only permitted for work purposes, the provision of charitable service or at an education facility.