Rishi Sunak: UK police fine PM for not wearing seat belt

Lancashire police have asked a "42-year-old man from London" to pay a small fine for a social media video in which he is not wearing a seat belt

Rishi Sunak: UK police fine PM for not wearing seat belt
Rishi Sunak: UK police fine PM for not wearing seat belt


British police issued Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with a fine on Friday evening for riding in a car without a seat belt in a video clip that Sunak's team had published on social media.

Sunak's spokesperson had apologized the previous day for a "brief error of judgment" after people had noticed and criticized the indiscretion.

Wearing a seat belt in cars is mandatory in almost all circumstances in the UK, also in the back seats. Sunak's spokesperson said the prime minister had only removed the belt for the purposes of recording the video, in which he can be seen twisting towards the camera.

Police from the county of Lancashire in northwest England, where Sunak's car was at the time, did not name the prime minister in their initial announcement, although they gave his age and place of residence.

"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 a fixed penalty," police said.

The conditional offer phrasing means that the individual fined has an offer to pay and implicity accept guilt, but as a trade-off pays much less than the maximum fine and does not have to go to court to answer the case. It tends to be the standard penalty issued in such cases.

Sunak was fined 50 pounds (around €57 or $62), one tenth of the theoretical maximum fee for not wearing a seat belt.

Soon after, Downing Street issued a statement saying that Sunak accepted that not wearing a seat belt was a mistake and that he would comply with the police fine.

Sunak was also one of roughly 50 people, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who received a fixed penalty notice last April for attending an impromptu birthday party for Johnson at 10 Downing Street, in defiance of the government's own rules on social distancing during the COVID pandemic. This scandal and others helped set the wheels in motion that ultimately led to Johnson's resignation last July.

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