Partygate: Cummings makes fresh claim of lockdown-breaching 'drinks' at No10

7 January 2022, 16:40 | Updated: 7 January 2022, 16:43

Dominic Cummings has made a fresh allegation of a "drinks party" at No10.
Dominic Cummings has made a fresh allegation of a "drinks party" at No10. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Boris Johnson's former aide Dominic Cummings has made a fresh allegation in the partygate scandal, claiming there were "socially distanced drinks" for staff in the Downing Street garden last spring.

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The Prime Minister's former chief adviser made the claim in his latest blog post, where he says an event was held on May 20.

He alleges this event is separate to the picture which appeared in the Guardian last month of Boris Johnson and others enjoying "cheese and wine" - taken five days earlier on May 15.

That photo includes Cummings, but he says these were genuine meetings and that he used the garden terrace as his "office" as it was safer working outdoors.

In May of last year England was in lockdown and by law, people were only allowed to be away from their home if they had a "reasonable excuse".

Read more: 'No rules were broken': Raab defends No 10 'cheese and wine' garden gathering

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One of the listed excuses was for work, "where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work... from the place where they are living".

When asked about the May photo, Boris Johnson said, "those people were at work talking about work".

Cummings has also rejected the claims that the photo showed evidence of an "after work party".

He wrote: "The scene on the terrace was in no sense a ‘party’ or ‘organised drinks’. Many meetings had been taking place in the garden all day.

"While the PM and I had been at that table, various other groups had formed and dispersed in the garden/terrace. Those on the terrace nearest me in the photo had been having a meeting."

Read more: Pressure piles on PM as Simon Case quits No10 Xmas party probe after 'event in his office'

Cummings, who has hit out at the Prime Minister on numerous occasions since he resigned, also made a number of other allegations in his post.

He claims he was told that there was a party in the No10 flat the night he left his job, and has also said there are photos of other parties, including some which picture the Prime Minister.

He also claimed Mr Johnson has "told multiple lies about parties in December 2020 and forced or encouraged others to tell the media untrue things".

He does say that other than the alleged event on May 20, he is "not aware" of events at Downing Street which "broke the rules" while he was there.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who had been tasked with leading an investigation into alleged parties held across Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions, stepped down last month following reports an event was held in his own department.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed Sue Gray, a senior government official, is taking over the investigation.

The probe will investigate three alleged parties which were held at No10 over the Christmas period last year.

LBC has approached Downing Street for comment.