London: UK police on Friday (local time) fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not wearing a seatbelt in a moving car while filming a social media video. Without naming Sunak, Lancashire Police said it had issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of a fixed penalty. “Following the circulation of a video on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seat belt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire we have today (Friday, Jan 20) issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty,” tweeted Lancashire Police.
The conditional offer of a fixed penalty phrasing means that the individual fined has the offer to pay and implicitly accepts guilt within 28 days. Still, as a trade-off, they pay much less than the maximum fine and do not risk going to court to answer the case. It tends to be the standard penalty issued in such cases.
Sunak was fined Pound 50 (around Euro 57 or USD 62), one-tenth of the theoretical maximum fee for not wearing a seat belt if taking the case to court, reported DW News. Notably, passengers caught failing to wear a seat belt when one is available can be fined Pound 100. This can increase to Pound 500 if the case goes to court.
Soon after the fine announcement, Sunak’s office said in a statement that “the prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologized. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.”
Sunak was in Lancashire when the video was filmed, during a trip across the north of England. The video – to promote the government’s latest round of “levelling up” spending – was posted on Sunak’s Instagram account.
Earlier, he had apologized after removing his seatbelt to film a campaign video in the back of a moving car. The PM’s spokesman said he had made an “error of judgment” by briefly taking it off to film a social media clip during a trip to the north of England.
In the clip, recorded for Instagram, Sunak addresses the camera without wearing the safety device while the vehicle he is in keeps moving, reported Politico. The spokesperson said, “The prime minister believes everyone should wear a seatbelt,” reported Politico. “It was an error of judgment, he removed it for a short period of time to film a clip, which you’ve seen, but he accepts that was a mistake.”
It is the second time Sunak has received a fixed penalty notice while in government. Last April, Sunak was one of roughly 50 people, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who received a fixed penalty notice last April for attending a birthday party for Johnson at 10 Downing Street in June 2020, in defiance of the government’s own rules on social distancing during the COVID pandemic. The “partygate” scandal and others helped set the wheels in motion, ultimately leading to Johnson’s resignation last July. ANI