A video of a police van driving through Peckham Rye blaring “no sunbathing…exercise only” during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic has caused outrage on social media. The 28 second clip, which shows Metropolitan Police officers clearing members of the public from the south London park, was taken in April 2020, just weeks before a Downing Street party.
Taking to Twitter, journalist Ross McCafferty shared the video with the caption: “Keep stuff like this in mind as the Partygate defence becomes ‘it was only 10 minutes….there was no cake’ etc.”
He continued: “Lots of people have justifiably memory-holed some of the bonkers dystopian reality during the first lockdown. But Team Boris are trying to pretend there was always blurred lines. The rules were clear cut. It became obvious quite quickly things like meeting people socially distanced outside should have been allowed – but the government chose to make the laws, chose to enforce them, and chose to break them.”
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Other angry users replied: “They wouldn’t let people sit at Bellahouston Park to read a book. Makes me so angry”, whilst another replied: “I literally got told to leave the park when I was WALKING MY DOG because I sat down on the grass alone to have a drink of water during the hot summer sunshine.”
Another took to Twitter to say: “Oh my god!! I remember feeling guilty for sitting down for five minutes. An absolute joke.” Others shared their own stories of being stopped by the police for taking a “breather” outside and giving up their hobbies, whilst one wrote: “Mad that no one is gonna do anything about it, will just sit here throwing a bit of abuse on social media and go about our day.”
Boris Johnson has come under increased scrutiny in recent days as he and other top Conservatives were handed fixed penalties for breaching lockdown rules. An investigation by the Met Police into the illegal parties has led to at least 50 fines being issued, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Carrie Johnson paying fines.
(Image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor /PA Wire)
One such party was Mr Johnson’s birthday party, which was arranged by his then-fiancée in the Cabinet Room. Up to 30 people had attended, sang Happy Birthday and cake was reportedly served. At the time, gatherings of more than two people inside were banned and rule-breakers would be handed fixed penalty notices which started at £100.
Other parties included a ‘bring your own booze’ garden party on May 20, 2020 and several gatherings ahead of Christmas, including an office quiz party, which happened whilst London was under tier 2 restrictions.
The clip in Peckham has infuriated Twitter users who had followed the rules Boris Johnson had set, with another user writing: “Parties and cakes are allowed and should be forgotten about but kids playing outside was illegal and stopped by police and councils. F****** scandalous.”
Others shared photos of the police clearing members of the public in other parks, including Highgate Wood, whilst one person replied: “The police barged into the local grocery store demanding to know what people were buying and threatening people if the answer was not deemed ‘essential’. We remember this. Tories just lie.”
Boris Johnson has apologised for being fined for breaking lockdown rules but has said he will not resign. He said: “I have paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology.”
When asked if he would quit, Mr Johnson said: “I want to be able to get on and deliver the mandate that I have, but also to tackle the problems that the country must face right now.”
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