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LONDON — The Metropolitan Police closed its investigation into a string of boozy bashes held by British government officials in violation of covid lockdown rules, saying on Thursday that the department has issued 126 fines in all, for eight gatherings in 2020 and 2021.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said neither the prime minister nor his wife was fined in the last round of citations. Last month, Johnson was among those referred for a fine, alongside his wife, Carrie Johnson, and Exchequer Rishi Sunak, for attending a birthday gathering for the prime minister in the cabinet room in June 2021.

Still, the issuance of more fines over pandemic breaches is sure to stoke anger at Johnson and his 10 Downing Street operation, underscoring the feeling that governing elites had one rule for ordinary people and another for themselves. Johnson is the first sitting prime minister to have been found to have broken the law.

The gatherings took place during strict government-mandated lockdowns meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions meant people could not see their loved ones in hospitals or nursing homes or even attend funerals.

The four-month investigation into what the British press dubbed “partygate” was substantial enough to have a police code name: Operation Hillman. And new details of the investigation made it clear that the inquiry resulted in no mere parking tickets, as some Johnson defenders have argued.

The core investigative team comprised 12 full-time detectives, police said, with other support and oversight required. The cost totaled 460,000 pounds, or about $570,000.

Police examined 12 gatherings held at Downing Street and nearby government offices in 2020 and 2021, determining that eight were in violation.

Among them: a bash on May 20, 2020, that included an invitation from a top Johnson staffer telling attendees to “bring your own booze” and a party on April 16, 2021, on the eve of the funeral for Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Detectives examined 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries and witness statements; 510 photographs and CCTV images; and 204 questionnaires, police said, making the investigation of ministry and government staffers the most expansive of any lockdown inquiry during the pandemic.

The scandal had threatened Johnson’s premiership, with numerous calls for his resignation, although the ire has since ebbed.

He rebuffed calls to resign after he was fined last month and has tried to justify his breach by saying he was an “honest” politician who had “inadvertently” misled Parliament when he said that “the guidance and the rules” on parties at Downing Street “were followed at all times.”

Johnson has repeatedly apologized for the parties, asking forgiveness not only from the public, but also the monarch.

The illegal gatherings were one reason his Conservative Party endured a drubbing in recent local elections, and political peril remains.

Johnson and his government face two more probes. An administrative report by civil servant Sue Gray, who previously said the parties involved “failures of leadership and judgment,” is expected to be released soon now that the police investigation is over.

Parliament has launched an additional inquiry into whether Johnson “knowingly misled” lawmakers about the gatherings and whether they violated lockdown rules.



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