Was The PM's Birthday Party Illegal? That's What This Lawyer Thinks

·3 min read
Lawyer Adam Wagner speaking to BBC News on the latest party allegations (Photo: BBC)
Lawyer Adam Wagner speaking to BBC News on the latest party allegations (Photo: BBC)

Barrister Adam Wagner did not hesitate to call the latest allegations that the prime minister had a birthday party in lockdown unlawful.

The renowned human rights lawyer referred back to the restrictions in place when the birthday party for Boris Johnson reportedly took place on 19 June, 2020, which prohibited people gathering in groups larger than six outdoors.

Indoor gatherings of people from different households were also forbidden.

According to ITV News’ report, up to 30 people attended a surprise party for the prime minister in the Cabinet Room, organised by his wife, with a birthday cake.

As Wagner told Sky News on Monday: “If the police had come across a gathering like this with cake, food on the tables, and obviously social and arranged before, in a particular room in a work place but with nobody doing any work, what would they have done?

“They would have given everyone fixed penalty notices.”

These are an alternative to prosecution, and usually the police’s first course of action for such breaches.

If these notices were not paid, officers would prosecute, but Wagner said, “In this case it will almost certainly be fixed penalty notices”.

He continued: “And the other question to ask if you had asked the prime minister or Matt Hancock, or any of the officials who stood up at those regular briefings, ‘we want to have a birthday gathering – a party, really – in a work room, we’re going to pre-arrange it, and we’re going to have cake and food, we’re going to stay there for half an hour and there’s going to be 30 people indoors.’

“At the time, they would have said, ‘absolutely not, that’s not within the rules’ and they would have been right.”

He also told BBC News that he “can’t see any reason” for such a gathering to go ahead indoors.

Addressing No.10’s defence that the prime minister only stayed for 10 minutes and that staff were only gathered briefly, Wagner said: “It’s got to a bit of a ridiculous phase where the government are no longer denying the actual facts, and describing it in a way that doesn’t actually fit what is being reported.”

He said it was “exactly the kind of gathering” that was prohibited in law at the time, so No.10′s defence is “getting a bit silly”.

Wagner also tweeted: “A bit annoyed by the government now trying to rewrite the rules on social gatherings retrospectively to justify this obviously illegal one.”

Another tweet reads: “If the facts of this are accurate then I can’t see how it could have been lawful.

“19 June 2020 – indoor gatherings of 2 or more were banned unless it fell within a list of exceptions.

“Birthday parties (or any social gatherings) were not an exception.”

Wagner welcomed the news that the Metropolitan Police will now be investigating some of the Downing Street parties on Tuesday.

The Met previously claimed it would not be looking into any of the parties unless senior civil servant Sue Gray’s internal investigation found evidence of criminal activity.

Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick even indicated that Gray passed them information which gives them ground for an investigation during a Tuesday press briefing.

Gray’s report will not be published until the police’s investigation is complete, according to BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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