UK police chief defends decision-making over 'partygate' fines

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures in 10 Downing Street during gathering on the departure of a special adviser, in London, Britain November 13, 2020 in this picture obtained from civil servant Sue Gray's report published on May 25, 2022. Sue Gray Report / via REUTERS

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LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - The acting head of London's Metropolitan Police on Thursday defended his investigation into COVID-19 lockdown-busting parties at the heart of government, responding to earlier criticism from the British capital's Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Earlier this week Khan, who has oversight of policing in London, demanded an explanation from police over how they decided who to fine for events in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's offices that broke lockdown rules. read more

New photographs of Johnson at a leaving party in Downing Street in November 2020 were published by ITV News on Monday. Johnson was not fined for that gathering, but did receive a fine for another event, a party for his birthday in June 2020.

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A damning government report published on Wednesday detailed a series of illegal lockdown parties and included other pictures of Johnson at gatherings. Prior to this, police had handed out 126 fines in connection with their investigation. read more

Acting Commissioner Steve House published a letter in reply to Khan, setting out the decision-making process his officers had used when deciding whether to issue fines or not.

"I can assure you and the public that the small but skilled team investigating this have acted diligently, proportionately, carefully, and impartially," he said in the letter.

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Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden

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