Watch: Everything Boris Johnson said about his lockdown party fine

Boris Johnson has paid a fine for attending his birthday bash in Downing Street and offered a “full apology” for the lockdown-busting event.

The Prime Minister said it “did not occur” to him that the gathering in the Cabinet Room on June 19 2020 to mark his 56th birthday was a violation of coronavirus rules.

However, he said that after being issued with a fine as part of a Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged parties at the heart of the Government during the pandemic, he “now humbly accepts” he did breach Covid laws.

Below is a full transcript of the Prime Minister’s broadcast interview on the matter:

Prime Minister: “Today, I have received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police relating to an event in Downing Street on June 19 2020. And let me say immediately that I paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology. And in a spirit of openness and humility, I will be completely clear about what happened on that date.

“My day began shortly after 7am and I chaired eight meetings in Number 10, including the Cabinet committee deciding Covid strategy. I visited a school in Hemel Hempstead, which took me out of Downing Street for over four hours. And amongst all these engagements, on the day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm, lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.

“And I have to say, in all frankness, at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules. But of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation. I understand the anger that many will feel that I myself fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the Government I lead had introduced to protect the public and I accept in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better.

“And now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people: strengthening our economy; creating jobs and opportunity; levelling up across the whole of the United Kingdom; now, of course, ensuring that Putin fails in Ukraine and easing the burden on hardworking families caused by higher energy prices. I will take that forward… that task, with due humility, but with maximum determination, to fulfil my duty, and do what is best for the country I serve. Thanks very much.”

Q: “This does make you the first serving Prime Minister to have been found to have broken the law. It is a serious matter. Will you resign?”

Prime Minister: “I have of course paid the FPN (fixed penalty notice). And I apologise once again for the mistake that I made. And as I have said just now I want to be able to get on and deliver the mandate that I have, but also to tackle the problems that the country must face right now and to make sure that we get on with delivering for the people in this country. That is my priority.”

Q: “The problem for you though is to do that people have to trust you, voters have to respect you. They have to think you have authority. Isn’t the fact that you broke your own laws, doesn’t that mean that you can’t do that?”

Prime Minister: “I believe that it’s my job to get on and deliver for the people in this country. And that’s what I’m going to do.”

Q: “But this wasn’t an isolated incident. You have made clear you think it was just 10 minutes. It wasn’t one isolated incident. There have been 50 fines so far. Do you take responsibility for a culture in Downing Street, the place that you live, but also the place where people work, where people thought that this kind of behaviour was acceptable?”

Prime Minister: “Of course I take full responsibility for everything, but don’t forget that Downing Street is about, you know, 15,000 square feet. It’s got a lot of officials working in it, hundreds and hundreds of officials. I couldn’t be everywhere at once. But clearly once it became obvious what had been happening, the types of behaviour that unfortunately sadly we had seen, we’ve taken steps to change things, and Downing Street has been radically transformed. It’s a very different organisation and we are focusing 100% on delivering our agenda.”

Q: “But you did repeatedly say that all the guidelines were followed in Downing Street. That was a lie, wasn’t it?”

Prime Minister: “When I said that, I spoke in completely good faith, because as I’ve said to you just now, I, at the time that I was standing up for nine minutes in the Cabinet Room where I work every day, it didn’t occur to me that I was…”

Q, interrupting: “But you didn’t understand your own rules and everyone else had to follow them?”

Prime Minister: “… it didn’t occur to me, as I say, that I was in breach of the rules. I now humbly accept that I was. But I think the best thing I can do now is, having settled the fine, is focus on the job in hand, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Q: “Do you think more fines are coming your way?”

Prime Minister: “You know, I, if they are I’m sure that you will be the first to know, or amongst the very first to know.”

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