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 published on Sunak's Instagram account.
Wearing a seat belt in cars is mandatory in all circumstances in 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.
| NEW: PM Rishi Sunak was NOT wearing a seatbelt in a video recorded in his Government car this morning pic.twitter.com/SOLn5YGnT7— Politics UK (@POLITlCSUK) January 19, 2023
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 of a fixed penalty phrasing means that the individual fined has an offer to pay and implicitly accept guilt within 28 days, but as a trade-off they pay much less than the maximum fine and do not risk going court to answer the case. It tends to be the standard penalty issued in such cases.
Sunak was fined 50 pounds (some US$ 62), one tenth of the theoretical maximum fee for not wearing a seat belt if taking the case to court. Soon after, 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.
The case had prompted criticism from opposition politicians, with Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner calling Sunak a total liability.
But a Conservative MP from Lancashire, Scott Benton, said he was sure that Lancashire police's time is better spent investigating serious crime which impacts on my constituents. He called the complaints politically motivated.
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