The Home Secretary said she expects Tobias Ellwood to face police action after giving a speech at a swanky private members’ club in London. Ms Patel insisted police will not ease off enforcement of the rules over Christmas but they will focus on “egregious breaches” of the law. She said Mr Ellwood’s behaviour was exactly that, which means he is likely to be fined.
“Having dinner outside of the rules with a large number of people is a breach of the regulations,” she said.
“There are fixed penalty notices. I don’t know the details as to where this happened or the location, but I’m sure, as it is a breach, that will be followed up.”
Mr Ellwood apologised yesterday after it emerged he gave a speech at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly hours before London entered Tier 3 for the first time.
The chairman of the Commons Defence Committee insisted that the Iraq Britain Business Council event was “fully Covid compliant” and was permitted because he attended for business purposes.
It was described on the organisers’ website as a “Christmas party”.
Mr Ellwood said he “gleaned extremely useful intelligence” about issues in the Middle East during the reception.
He added: “I appreciate, given the current challenges, some will question the wisdom of my attendance.
“I am sorry coverage of my well-intentioned attendance may have muddled the Government’s clear message as we head towards Christmas.
“Whilst the event was fully Covid complaint, perceptions count.”
Mr Ellwood attended the dinner the day after he told the Commons that allowing families to meet over Christmas “could be very dangerous indeed”.
And he had suggested the relaxation of rules over the festive period could lead to a “third wave”.
Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been clear throughout the pandemic that it is “vital for everybody to abide by the rules” in order to suppress the virus.