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Rita Ora likely to escape fine for breaking lockdown with party

Vikram Dodd and Josh Halliday
·4 min read

The singer Rita Ora is likely to escape a personal fine after breaching Covid rules to attend her birthday party at a Notting Hill restaurant, but the venue is under investigation and may face a £10,000 penalty.

The singer apologised and admitted an error of judgment on Monday after photos emerged of her attending the 30th birthday party at Casa Cruz in west London with about 30 people.

The singer accepted the event had breached coronavirus rules, as she sought to limit the fallout. After photos of what the singer said was a “small gathering” were published in the Sun, Ora admitted a “serious and inexcusable error of judgment” based on a “spur of the moment decision”.

The restaurant is covered by Kensington and Chelsea council, which said its environmental health team was investigating – but any fine would be issued against the owner of the premises, not the person organising or hosting the party.

The event on Saturday evening led to phone calls to the Metropolitan police. Britain’s biggest force said officers sent to the scene had not seen anything in breach of Covid regulations and are understood not to have entered the premises.

Images obtained by the Sun showed police officers outside the restaurant on Saturday evening, at one point trying to open a door without success.

The Met has a policy of not retrospectively investigating Covid breaches. In short, if its officers do not see rules being flouted, they will not go back and investigate.

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Kensington and Chelsea council said any fine levied would be paid to them, not the police. Amid reports attributed to a source close to the singer that Ora had voluntarily paid a fine, a council spokesperson said on Monday evening that no payment had been received, and the council had not decided whether to issue one.

A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the reports and will be investigating them with the premises.” The council added that “any potential action would be taken against the person responsible for running the premises or the licence holder. We would not take action against the person whose party it was after the event.”

In a post on Instagram Stories, Ora said: “Hello all, I attended a small gathering with some friends to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK.

“I’m deeply sorry for breaking the rules and in turn understand that this puts people at risk. This was a serious and inexcusable error of judgment. Given the restrictions, I realise how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility.

“I feel particularly embarrassed knowing first hand how hard people have worked to combat this terrible illness and being fully aware of the sacrifices that people and businesses have made to help keep us all safe. Even though this won’t make it right, I want to sincerely apologise.”

Images showed Ora arriving at the restaurant along with a number of other people, including the models Cara and Poppy Delevingne.

Under England’s national lockdown, which ends on Tuesday, it is against the law to meet more than one person you do not live with except in specific circumstances. Police have the power to break up gatherings and issue fines of up to £10,000 for breaches of the regulations, which are underpinned by the Coronavirus Act 2020.

Casa Cruz has been contacted for comment. Its director, Nicholas Fallows, was quoted by the Sun saying that the newspaper’s inquiry was the first he had heard of the apparently illicit gathering.

The restaurant describes itself as an “intimate, warm and elegant” venue, “tucked into the leafy streets of London’s Notting Hill”. Its “core philosophy” is to be a “home away from home for all”, according to its website.

The Met police said: “Police were called at 21:10hrs on Saturday, 28 November to reports of a potential breach of Covid regulations at a commercial premises in Clarendon Road, W11. Officers attended and carried out enquiries at the scene but found no indication of any offence being committed at the time.

“Officers continue to assess the allegations and are liaising with the local authority regarding a potential breach of regulations at the premises.”