Treasury staff 'had drinks to celebrate spending review during lockdown'

11 December 2021, 07:40

  • Staff gathered in the Treasury to celebrate Rishi Sunak's spending review
  • Around 24 people gathered for 'impromptu drinks' during lockdown
  • Beer and wine was brought into the Treasury, according to reports
  • The party was held while coronavirus restrictions were in place
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was not at the event but around 24 civil servants attended
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was not at the event but around 24 civil servants attended. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Treasury staff who worked on the Autumn Spending Review last year had office drinks while England was in lockdown, it has been reported.

The latest party revelation comes after more than a week of controversy over allegations of rule-breaking festivities in Downing Street in the run-up to last Christmas.

Two dozen civil servants attended the drinks party where wine and beer was brought in to the Treasury last year on November 25, 2020.

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A Treasury spokesman confirmed to the Times that a "small number" of staff had "impromptu drinks around their desks".

The party was held while coronavirus restrictions were in place which had asked people to stay at home unless exercising or food shopping. 

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues were closed as well as pubs, bars and restaurants, and people were urged to stay at home except for limited reasons including work if it could not be done from home.

The Times said Chancellor Rishi Sunak was not at the event and that it is understood he was not aware of it at the time.

A Treasury spokesman told the paper: "In line with the guidance at the time, a number of staff came into the office to work on the Spending Review 2020.

"We have been made aware that a small number of those staff had impromptu drinks around their desks after the event."

Downing Street said it has cancelled any plans to hold a Christmas party this year.

It came as Boris Johnson's ex-aide Dominic Cummings said there are "lots" of photos of parties in No 10 that will "inevitably get out".

Mr Cummings dismissed defences from the Prime Minister's allies that he would not have known about celebrations going on under his roof amid signs Mr Johnson's popularity is slumping.

Government chief whip Mark Spencer insisted Downing Street staff "were not drinking alcohol" and partying during Covid restrictions after it emerged the Prime Minister's press chief addressed staff at one event last Christmas.

No 10 said Mr Johnson retained full confidence in Jack Doyle to serve as communications director despite ITV reporting he addressed up to 50 people and made a speech at one party on December 18.