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Tory Party admits 'gathering' at HQ in December 2020 amid Downing Street Xmas party row
9 December 2021, 00:45 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 01:09
The Conservative Party has acknowledged a party took place at its headquarters during coronavirus restrictions last December.
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A Tory spokesperson acknowledged an "unauthorised social gathering" had taken place on December 14 - when London was in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions, banning indoor mixing between households.
"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 the spokesperson, after a report in the Times said a party had taken place.
"Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Bailey campaign."
The party was reportedly organised by Shaun Bailey's campaign team.
It is thought around 25 people attended.
It comes as Boris Johnson falls 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 Boris 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."
In response to ITV's report, a Downing Street spokesman said: "There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times."
Boris Johnson has since apologised and said the clip left him "furious" - but he still denied the party took place, telling MPs in the House of Commons: "I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured."