Partygate: London woman prosecuted for breaking lockdown rules ‘didn’t know there was a party’


London estate agent was convicted and fined for breaking Covid-19 rules after insisting she “didn’t realise” a party was going to happen when she went to visit a friend.

Nancy Rush, 23, said it was an “unintentional” breach when she was accosted by police while drinking in the front garden of her friend’s home in Eltham, southeast London.

The PartyGate scandal engulfing Downing Street is shining a spotlight on prosecutions brought against members of the public during the pandemic, at a time when the Met Police is refusing to investigate alleged gatherings in the heart of government.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who is accused of attending a ‘bring your own booze’ party in the garden of Number 10 during the first national lockdown – apologised to the country but insisted “nobody told me” the event was against the rules.

Court documents show Rush, a property manager, was issued with a fixed penalty notice by police for the incident on January 21, 2021, when the country was in its third national lockdown and subject to Tier 4 restrictions.


She had travelled around a mile and a half to her friend’s home, and was prosecuted after not paying the police’s fixed penalty.

While entering a guilty plea Rush told Westminster magistrates she had been helping her friend with childcare and “popped round to drop her a birthday card”.

“I didn’t realise there would be other people present”, she said, in a written statement. “I did not enter the property.”

Police officers told the court they found six women in the driveway “who were drinking alcohol, listening to music loudly, and also had a strobe light as they were celebrating one of their friend’s birthdays”

A neighbour had tipped police off to the gathering, which Rush’s friend admitted to organising.

Rush said she did not receive the fixed penalty notice from police, and the first she knew about the case against her was when she received court papers.

“I apologise for breaking the Covid rules”, she added. “It was not intentional, matters got out of hand and I could not avoid.”

She was convicted of participating in a gathering of two or more people in an outdoor place in Tier 4, and was ordered to pay a £250 fine as well as a £34 victim surcharge and £85 in costs when the case was dealt with last year.

Around 2,500 people have now been prosecuted for breaking the Covid rules in London, with more than £1.2 million in fines imposed by the courts.

The Prime Minister’s former adviser Dominic Cummings has claimed Johnson knew the garden party he attended on May 20, 2020 was against the rules before it took place.

The PM has denied the suggestion, and says he is waiting for the results of civil servant Sue Gray’s investigation into allegations of government parties before taking any further action.

Scotland Yard is under pressure to launch an investigation, but has so far resisted the calls to act and said it will also wait for the outcome of the internal probe.

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