The Conservative Post can reveal a group of 31 Metropolitan Police officers faced £200 fixed penalty notices after breaching Covid-19 regulations while on duty.

The Met received an allegation that a number of officers had their hair cut by a professional barber while at Bethnal Green police station on Sunday 17 January 2021.

A local investigation was launched and it was decided the 31 police officers who had their hair cut should each face a £200 fixed penalty notice.

The Met said:

“Two officers, who were involved in organising the activity, have also been identified and notified they are under investigation for misconduct.”

Local policing commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, said:

“It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that my officers have fallen short of the expectation to uphold Covid-19 regulations. Although officers donated money to charity as part of the haircut, this does not excuse them from what was a very poor decision. I expect a lot more of them.

“It is right therefore, officers should each face a £200 fine, as well as misconduct action for those two who organised this event.

“Quite rightly, the public expect police to be role models in following the regulations which are designed to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. I hope this action proves that police are not immune to enforcement of the rules, and we are prepared as an organisation to take action if we see officers have behaved irresponsibly.”

Meanwhile questions are being raised as to whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other Downing Street staff have been incorrectly fined for alleged Downing Street get togethers during lockdown.

A leading barrister has come forward to say any ‘parties’ at No. 10 “almost certainly did not break the law.”

Writing in the Spectator in December 2021, Steven Barrett a leading barrister at Radcliffe Chambers who read law at Oxford and taught law at Cambridge wrote:

“During the course of the pandemic, the Covid laws have changed regularly. Yet one thing has stayed largely consistent: the rules have always treated people and places differently. Despite what some might claim, there’s nothing sinister in this.

“And it’s for this reason that the ‘cheese and wine’ gathering – which the PM has said did not take place – probably isn’t a matter for the police. During the course of the pandemic, the Covid laws have changed regularly.

“The starting point in the Covid rules should be section 73 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. This part of the Act states that the Covid regulations, at all times, never applied to Crown Land (which includes No. 10). This only changed if No. 10 made a written agreement to be voluntarily bound – and no one thinks they did. So the regulations almost certainly never applied to No. 10 anyway.”

According to Barrister Barrett the reason being; in the eighties “lawmakers decided that it would be better to allow the government to function during any future national pandemic without having to worry about being caught up in quarantine regulations. The thinking was that by making the government effectively exempt in law, the government could continue to function.”

Mr Barrett adds in addition to the 1984 Act, there were also specific regulations that applied at the time of the alleged ‘cheese and wine gate’: the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020.

The barrister says according to these rules, gatherings were allowed in all public buildings, or parts of them ‘operated by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body.’

Mr Barrett concluded:

“So it seems likely that whatever happened in Downing Street was legal. Of course, this won’t placate Boris Johnson’s critics – nor will it do much to dent the attacks on the PM. But these people can rest assured that the law was not broken. 

“In our legal system, people are innocent until proven guilty. People do not get to just say that crimes occurred and then demand that someone prove themselves innocent. Criminal lawyers will grandiosely call this ‘the golden thread’ that runs through their area of law. It applies to people they don’t like as much as those they do. And it should apply in this case.

“Far worse than this though is that another greater wrong has occurred. The public have been mistakenly told that some people are above the law. No one is above the law. That is what the rule of law means. If public confidence in that is undermined then that is a very serious issue. People need to stop playing politics with the law.”

More to follow.

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