Government official who helped write Covid-19 rules fined for Cabinet Office party

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Fines for breaking coronavirus laws have reportedly been issued to people who attended a leaving party for a senior official who helped write coronavirus laws.

The Daily Telegraph reported that some of those at the farewell event for Kate Josephs, who was director-general of the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 taskforce, have been handed fixed-penalty notices (FPNs).

The drinks event was held in the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2020. This was a time when London was under Tier 3 restrictions, banning indoor socialising.

Meanwhile, the “one rule for them and another for everyone else” was highlighted by David Lammy:

Apologies not good enough

So far, 20 fines have been issued following Scotland Yard’s investigation into alleged lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Josephs, who is on discretionary leave from her role as chief executive of Sheffield City Council, has not commented on the Telegraph report.

In January, after news of the gathering emerged, she said she was “truly sorry” about the event.

On the evening of 17 December, I gathered with colleagues that were at work that day, with drinks, in our office in the Cabinet Office, to mark my leaving the Civil Service.

I am truly sorry that I did this and for the anger that people will feel as a result.

Sheffield City Council brought in an independent investigator to examine the situation. A cross-party committee is looking at the findings.

A council spokesman said:

The committee will need to meet again once they have had time to properly consider the contents of the investigator’s report.

Until then, the committee needs to focus on its work.

Josephs is under no obligation to tell the council if she has received an FPN.

The identities of people issued with FPNs will not be disclosed by the Metropolitan Police. However, Downing Street has said it will confirm if Boris Johnson or cabinet secretary Simon Case are handed a fine.

Head of ethics fined

The reports about fines over Josephs’ leaving came after a former senior official became the first person to confirm they had received an FPN as a result of the partygate investigation.

Former deputy cabinet secretary and Whitehall ethics chief Helen MacNamara said she was “sorry for the error of judgment I have shown”.

She was reported to have received the fine in connection with a leaving do held in the Cabinet Office on June 18 2020.

MacNamara, who now works for the Premier League, said:

I am sorry for the error of judgment I have shown. I have accepted and paid the fixed penalty notice.

MacNamara was in charge of Whitehall propriety and ethics at the time. The Telegraph reported that she was given a £50 fine after police concluded she had broken Covid-19 laws by attending a leaving party for Hannah Young, a Downing Street aide.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that others had been fined for a gathering held on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.

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