'When I saw the email I didn't believe it': Sadiq Khan reacts to partygate scandal

11 January 2022, 14:22 | Updated: 11 January 2022, 14:26

Sadiq Khan on Downing Street Parties

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Sadiq Khan says he "didn't believe" an email was sent to Downing Street employees inviting them to a drinks party during the first lockdown, adding: "Those who are making the rules [are] quite clearly breaking the rules and then laughing about it."

The Mayor of London was questioned by LBC about the "bring your own booze" party in the garden behind No 10 in May 2020, which was allegedly attended by Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie.

Mr Khan said: "When I saw the email I didn't believe it... during a pandemic when the law was quite clear, the Prime Minister and those around him encouraging people to essentially break the law."

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The leaked email, obtained by ITV news, was written by Martin Reynolds, the PM's principal private secretary, and invited more than 100 Downing Street employees to "make the most of the lovely weather".

At the time England was under tough coronavirus restrictions banning groups from meeting socially outdoors.

Sources including former aide Dominic Cummings claim the Prime Minister attended.

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Mr Johnson refused to say whether he was at the event when questioned by reporters on Monday, and later failed to turn up after the Labour Party tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons.

Police are in contact with the Cabinet Office over the claims.

Mr Khan added: "It's important for the police to follow the evidence... we expect the public to have confidence in the rules, for the public to follow the rules, those that make the rules can't be breaking the rules.

"One of the things we've got to understand is we are policed in this country by consent, we also have a system of law and order where people follow the rules because they know there is accountability.

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"My concern is the confidence the public has... will be reduced if they see the Prime Minister and those around him, those who are making the rules, quite clearly breaking the rules and then laughing about it."

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office."

The Met had tweeted on the day of the alleged event, telling people they could have a picnic, exercise or do sport outside providing you are "on your own, with people you live with, or just you and one other person".

Then culture secretary Oliver Dowden used a Downing Street press conference that day to remind the public they could "meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place, provided that you stay two metres apart".