James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
No10 Xmas party probe looking at multiple dates, not just Dec 18th, Health Sec tells LBC
9 December 2021, 08:34 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 08:43
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told LBC that the investigation into alleged Christmas parties at Downing Street during lockdown will be wide-ranging and multiple dates would be looked at.
Mr Javid said he had “no” knowledge of reports of a party on December 14 organised by Shaun Bailey’s mayoral campaign, despite a Tory spokesperson acknowledging an "unauthorised social gathering" had taken place when London was in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Javid told Nick Ferrari at breakfast today: “I do know that Simon Case is not just looking at a particular date.
“He’s free to look at whatever dates he wants to consider.”
Mr Javid's comments contradict No10 yesterday who said only allegations of a Downing Street party on 18 December last year would be looked into, and not wider claims of gatherings on other dates.
A No 10 spokesperson said yesterday the cabinet secretary "has been asked to establish the facts of any events on the 18th."
Mr Javid went on to say he was “upset” at seeing the video of No10 aides joking about the party but insisted people should still follow Plan B rules regardless, saying it would be “wrong to try and conflate” the two issues.”
“I’m pleased the PM has responded the way he has," said Mr Javid. He said he was pleased that the Cabinet Secretary was looking into the matter with an investigation.
Mr Javid added that if Covid rules were followed in Downing Street last December, then no party would have been able to take place.
Nick confronted Mr Javid with his previous comments that he had said there had been no Christmas party in No 10.
He replied: "I would still tell you that I have received assurances that there were no rules that were broken, in terms of Covid rules, at any time in Downing Street. That means a party could not take place.
"If the rules were not broken, then a party could not take place.
"But having this investigation, having the Cabinet Secretary look into this, is the right response because this is the individual who can talk to anyone, can get the data, the evidence together and establish the facts."
The Conservative Party acknowledged a party took place at its HQ during coronavirus restrictions last December.
"Senior CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of Matthew Parker Street organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of December 14," said a Tory spokesperson, after a report in the Times said a party had taken place.
The party was reportedly organised by Shaun Bailey's campaign team. It is thought around 25 people attended.
Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure amid allegations a Christmas party was held at Downing Street four days later, on December 18 - when London was in Tier 3, and the guidance specifically banned Christmas parties.
A leaked video, obtained by ITV News, showed then press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, among others, joking about the party, which Mr Johnson has continued to deny took place.
In the footage, from December 22 2020, Ms Stratton is seen answering questions about the party at a mock press conference.
Mr Oldfield can be heard asking Ms Stratton: "I've just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?"
Ms Stratton replied "I went home" before appearing to consider what the correct answer should be.
She then asks: "Is cheese and wine alright?"
"It was a business meeting," she says eventually, to laughter in the room.
"This fictional party was a business meeting ... and it was not socially distanced."
Snap polling carried out yesterday found over half of Brits say that Boris Johnson should resign over the alleged No10 Christmas party which was held in breach of coronavirus restrictions.