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Boris Johnson fined, becomes first PM to be sanctioned for breaking law

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. [Reuters]

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have been fined by the police for attending a birthday party thrown for him during a Covid-19 lockdown, BBC reports.

Johnson confirmed he had paid the fine for going to the hour-long gathering in the Cabinet Room on June 19, 2020, as his wife, Carrie Johnson, confirmed she had paid a fine relating to the same event.

The Prime Minister, UK's first serving prime minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law, apologised but said he would not resign over the incident.

"I accept in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better," he said in an interview, at his Chequers country retreat.

Then went on "[But] now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people."

BBC reports that the fines come as part of a Metropolitan Police investigation into illegal parties that broke Covid rules in Downing Street.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, and Wales' Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford are among those calling for both the PM and the chancellor to resign.

And all the main opposition parties in Westminster have demanded Parliament be recalled from its Easter break.

The Metropolitan Police is looking into 12 alleged law-breaking gatherings across Whitehall.So far, more than 50 fines have been handed out, with more expected.

Speaking to reporters, the PM claimed the event he was fined for was "a brief gathering" that lasted "less than 10 minutes".

He added: "In all frankness, at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.

"But, of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation."

Mr Johnson also said he understood the anger the public might feel that he "fell short when it came to observing the rules that the government I lead had introduced to protect the public".

But asked if he would resign, he replied: "I want to be able to get on and deliver the mandate that I have [and] also to tackle the problems the country must face right now, and to make sure that we get on with delivering for the people of this country.

"That is my priority."

A spokesperson for Mr Sunak said he had not been told which event the fines were linked to.