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Boris Johnson pictured raising a glass at Downing Street party during lockdown
23 May 2022, 16:31 | Updated: 23 May 2022, 20:23
Leaked photos show Boris Johnson drinking and raising a glass at a lockdown-breaking party in Downing Street.
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In the images, obtained by ITV News, the Prime Minister is seen raising a glass with colleagues at No10, with several bottles of wine spotted on one table.
The four photos cast fresh doubt on Mr Johnson's defence that he was unaware of rule-breaking during the pandemic.
ITV's UK Editor Paul Brand tweeted an image showing the Prime Minister surrounded by a group of people, whose faces are blurred.
They appear to be at a leaving do for Downing Street’s then Director of Communications Lee Cain, ITV said.
Eight people are pictured standing closely together, as well as the photographer.
The Prime Minister previously denied a party happened in Downing Street on November 13.
Mr Johnson told the Commons on December 1 2021 that "all the rules were followed at all times".
And on the 8th December, he again told MPs: “I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”, before stating in a Downing Street press conference later that day that, “all the evidence I can see is that people in this building have stayed within the rules".
In one of the pictures sits the Prime Minister's red box, and on the table next to him are two bottles of champagne or cava, four bottles of wine and half a bottle of gin.
The party was reportedly held eight days after England was plunged into a second lockdown in November 2020.
At that time, parties with people outside of your household were banned. Eight days earlier England had been put back into strict lockdown due to soaring cases of Covid-19.
Boris Johnson was not fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending this event. He received one fine for his birthday party organised by wife Carrie, who was also fined alongside the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Downing Street declined to defend the scene portrayed, saying the Prime Minister will comment after the Sue Gray report into partygate is published in the coming days.
A spokesman for No10 said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.
"The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full."
The police watchdog has been urged to investigate Scotland Yard's handling of the Partygate investigation.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper has written to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) calling for them to examine the Met's Operation Hillman inquiry into events in No10 and Whitehall.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “These images will rightly make people across the country very angry.
“The Prime Minister must outline why he believes this behaviour was acceptable. To most, these pictures seem unjustifiable and wrong.”
Labour’s Bridget Phillipson told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr the Partygate picture featuring Mr Johnson looks like people getting "smashed".
Labour has accused the Prime Minister of "repeatedly breaking the law" following the leak, saying he "lied" to the public.
Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, said: "While the British public were making huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law.
“Boris Johnson said repeatedly that he knew nothing about law-breaking – there’s no doubt now, he lied. Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them.
“The Prime Minister has demeaned his office. The British people deserve better. While Labour has a plan for tackling the cost-of-living crisis, Tory MPs are too busy defending the indefensible actions of Boris Johnson.”
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said the images show Mr Johnson "has taken the British people for fools" as she called for Tories to remove him from office.
"It's becoming clearer than ever that Boris Johnson lied to the British people and to Parliament," she said.
"Conservative MPs must do their duty and sack this law-breaking Prime Minister. Every day he remains in office will do more damage to public trust and to our democracy."
The Metropolitan Police declined to explain why the Prime Minister was not fined over the leaving party.
The bombshell pictures have been leaked ahead of the release of Sue Gray's Partygate report into parties in Downing Street.
The report is expected to be published as soon as tomorrow. It is thought that she may also publish pictures of several events when the report is made public.
Ms Gray controversially met the Prime Minister to discuss the report's progress while it was being drafted last week.
A row erupted over the weekend about who initiated the "secret meeting" between the top civil servant and Mr Johnson.
The Prime Minister is facing calls to explain the meeting, while over the weekend No 10 and Ms Gray's office both denied proposing it.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi repeatedly said he did not know who called it, while Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke insisted this morning that Ms Gray instigated it.
However, this afternoon the PM's official spokesman admitted it was first suggested by No 10 officials.
He said "it was suggested it may be helpful to have that meeting" but insisted this was not a request from Mr Johnson.
The "technical request" for a meeting then came from Ms Gray's office, he added.
Parliament’s Privileges Committee is due to begin an investigation into whether the Prime Minister knowingly misled MPs by denying any knowledge of the parties.
Doing so would break the ministerial code and normally be a resigning matter.