British police fined prime minister Rishi Sunak on Friday for travelling in the back seat of a car without wearing his seat belt while filming a social media clip, a potentially embarrassing blow as he tries to revive his party’s fortunes.
Sunak, who apologised on Thursday for a “brief error of judgement”, filmed a video in the back seat of his car while travelling in the north of England, without wearing a seat belt.
Local police said later that day they would investigate, after the clip – published on Sunak’s Instagram account – was widely shared by other users who commented on him not wearing a seatbelt.
“The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty,” a spokesman from Sunak’s Downing Street office said in a statement.
It is the second penalty Sunak has received from police after last year they found he broke Covid-19 lockdown rules, along with then-prime minister Boris Johnson.
The fine represents a new challenge for Sunak, whose Conservative Party trails far behind the opposition Labour Party in the opinion polls, ahead of an election due by January 2025 at the latest.
Police in the northern English county of Lancashire confirmed that they had issued a 42-year-old man from London with a penalty notice.
In Britain a person can be fined up to 500 pounds ($620) if they fail to wear a seatbelt, unless there is an exemption, such as for emergency services, in taxi or when a driver is reversing.
Sunak becomes the second prime minister after Johnson to have been fined in such a manner.