Michael Fabricant: No10 party was fine, it wasn't as dangerous as funerals and weddings

11 January 2022, 15:24 | Updated: 11 January 2022, 15:53

Mr Fabricant defended Boris Johnson
Mr Fabricant defended Boris Johnson. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Michael Fabricant has defended the leaked Downing Street "bring your own booze" party, insisting it did not carry the same risk as a wedding or a funeral.

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After weeks of allegations over Government staff parties breaching Covid rules, a newly-leaked email in which 100 employees were invited to a No10 do has reignited public anger.

It has also been alleged Mr Johnson and wife Carrie attended the May 2020 event but his spokesman declined to comment.

The report follows a wave of allegations of rule-breaking by Government staff during periods of Covid restrictions.

As grieving relatives of people who died from coronavirus infection spoke of their anger, Mr Johnson dodged a House of Commons appearance when he was asked to make a statement on the revelations.

But Tory MP Michael Fabricant was happy to bat for the embattled Prime Minister, telling LBC's Shelagh Fogarty: "I can well understand their anger, but I wanted to explain to people if I may exactly the situation that existed at No10 Downing Street, so maybe I could reduce ever so slightly their anger.

"Whether it was breaking the rules or not will be decided by the Metropolitan Police…

Read more: Boris dodges Commons grilling as fury mounts over No10 partygate

Read more: Partygate: Calls grow for PM’s top aide Martin Reynolds to be sacked

"In the Downing Street complex you've got something like 100 offices connecting three buildings and then the Cabinet Office, it's a secure area.

"Some of these people were working 18 hours a day as I know many nurses did and the garden is part of that secure area so I guess… they probably thought well as we were working together anyway… going into the garden was in fact a less confined environment than the office they were in.

Read more: Police 'in contact' with Cabinet about possible probe into lockdown party

"The point is there was no mixing, this is a secure garden, guarded by armed police, as you know Shelagh, there was no chance of mixing with other people who weren't already there in the offices where they worked.

"It's very different from actually going to a pub or a park bench, mixing with other people who you hadn't seen spreading the disease, this is people who had been working very closely together in a very confined space."

Shelagh countered that she also worked in an office that have access to a rooftop terrace and guarded by security, but at no point did staff decide to have a "bring your own booze" party.

"Once you're socialising and drinking naturally you become disinhibited, it's normal," she told the MP.

"We were being urged on an almost nightly basis not to indulge in normal social human behaviour even with our families who didn't live in our household, we were told not to by law as well as guidance.

"Other people have offices, other people have gardens in their offices, or open spaces, and they weren't inviting 100 people into them, it won't wash.

Mr Fabricant said: "When you are close in offices the infection probability is a lot higher than in an open space.

"I'm well aware people were not able to attend funerals, weddings… I know of many people, one very close friend of mine in particular whose mother died and the last he saw of her was when she went off into the ambulance and died two weeks later.

"But that was all about mixing, all about not having the disease spread."

Shelagh said: "Nobody said look at this lovely garden at the back of Kings College Hospital or whatever, let's go have drinks there they were on their knees with exhaustion, went home and slept, then came back and did the same the next day.

"This is indefensible… I don't care how secure it is. People were mixing and drinking, 40 of them, 100 were invited.

Mr Fabricant said: "What I'm simply saying is what they did not do is mix with people who they hadn't already mixed with."

He added: "Unlike situations like marriages, like funerals, like meeting neighbours and so forth, this was not mixing outside a closed group and that closed group were the people working hard delivering the very best vaccine programme in the world."