In the latest tranche of the leaked Matt Hancock WhatsApp messages which was published by the Daily Telegraph it has been revealed that Ministers and senior officials discussed that they need to “get heavy” with the police to enforce Covid rules.
The then Health Secretary Hancock and the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case had an exchange whereby Case asked, “Who actually is delivering enforcement?” in August 2020.
Hancock replied, “I think we are going to have to get heavy with the police,” Case then pointed out they were due to have a roundtable meeting with Ministers and the “cops.”
In a meeting in January 2021 which involved the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Hancock messaged Case and said that the “PM was in vg shape” and “the plod got their marching orders.”
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Those WhatsApp exchanged revealed the true extent of the “arrogance and shameful lack of respect” of Ministers towards the police, the Labour, shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said.
The Labour, shadow Home Secretary added, “At the same time as they were flagrantly breaking the law themselves with their lockdown parties, they were demanding stronger enforcement by the police on everyone else.”
More than 100,000 messages passed to the Telegraph by journalist Isabel Oakeshott, which also revealed that Hancock and Case were joking that travellers who had arrived in the UK were being “locked up” in quarantine hotels, and the Cabinet Secretary said it was “hilarious.
Also Hancock had shared a news story where a couple were fined £10,000 each as they had failed to quarantine, and the then Prime Minister said “superb.”
Hancock also wanted his team to get in touch with the Home Office after a news report had suggested at the time that Nigel Farage had broken quarantine regulations after he has returned back to the UK from the US.
His special adviser Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said, “Does he count as a pub hooligan?
“Can we lock him up?”
Hancock then said his case should be dealt with “like any other.”
In February 2021 cops handed out 6,000 fines in a single week and since the Coronavirus Act came into force almost 70,000 fines for breaching the law have been handed out.
The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) data showed that between 27 March 2020 and 14 February a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were given, with 63,201 in England and 5,751 in Wales.
Most of the fines were given following the government’s Tier 4 restrictions in December 2022, with the latest fines handed out by eager cops on 4 January 2021 when the third lockdown started.
In the seven days to 11 February 2021 cops dished out 4,752 fines and the previous 6,218 were handed out.
The Metropolitan Police had handed 10,000 FNs since March 2020, and they said their cops responded to calls, “where people have recklessly and dangerously breached the regulations by organising house parties or unlicensed music events.”