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No10 staff invited to lockdown-busting boozy party on 20 May 2020, leaked email reveals
10 January 2022, 18:43 | Updated: 10 January 2022, 19:38
Boris Johnson is facing further pressure over lockdown-busting Downing Street 'gatherings' after ITV obtained an email inviting No10 staff to a boozy event to 'make the most of the the lovely weather' in the spring of 2020.
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Downing Street has previously insisted that a photo obtained by the Guardian showing staff gathering on May 15 that year was a work meeting.
But the new email revelation this evening sets out that the drinks party on May 20 was a social gathering and was not for work.
The PM's former adviser Dominic Cummings tweeted an emoji of a shopping trolley in a reference to Boris Johnson, indicating he was present at the May 20 party after news of the story emerged.
ITV reported that over 40 members of staff attended, including Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie.
The email was sent by the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to over 100 No10 employees.
It reads “Hi all,
"After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
"Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!"
Dominic Cummings earlier made allegations of the May 20 party in a blog on Friday.
At 5pm on that day, the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told everyone in England at a daily press conference that they must only meet in pairs outdoors to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
On 20 May 2020, the Met police tweeted: “Have you been enjoying the hottest day of the year so far?
"It is important that we all continue to #StayAlert
"You can relax, have a picnic, exercise or play sport, as long as you are: On your own, With people you live with, Just you and one other person."
Have you been enjoying the hottest day of the year so far? 🌞— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) May 20, 2020
It is important that we all continue to #StayAlert
You can relax, have a picnic, exercise or play sport, as long as you are:
➡️ On your own
➡️ With people you live with
➡️ Just you and one other person pic.twitter.com/LAVe6DScQ5
The prime minister refused to comment over the May 20 party when asked earlier today, except to say an inquiry is under way.
Angela Rayner tweeted today: "Boris Johnson has complete disregard for the rules he sets.
"While he was partying, frontline workers were putting themselves at risk, NHS staff were on the frontline and too many of us lost loved ones and couldn't say a proper goodbye."
Luke Pollard MP wrote: "The Tories are laughing at you. You followed the rules, they held parties in Downing Street."
The Prime Minister today dodged questions about whether he attended the gathering in May 2020 with Mr Johnson insisting it was a matter for Sue Gray, the senior official leading an investigation into reports of lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall.
Asked if he attended, the Prime Minister told reporters: "All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray."
Pressed on whether he had been interviewed by Ms Gray, he said: "All that is a subject for investigation by Sue Gray."
Downing Street denied reports that Mr Reynolds is to be moved to another post following the claims.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said he was staying in his current role.
"The Prime Minister has full confidence in his team. There is no change in that post," he said. The spokesman also refused to be drawn on reports that Mr Johnson had attended the event.
"There is an independent process going on to look into this, led by Sue Gray, and I can't comment further while that is taking place."
Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson would have "serious questions to answer" if found to have attended a lockdown-breaking party.
Asked whether Mr Johnson would have to resign if he was found to have attended a party during lockdown, Sir Keir said: "We need to let the inquiry take its course, see what the findings are.
"The Prime Minister has insisted he broke no rules so if the finding is that he did then he will obviously have very serious questions to answer.
"Let's let the inquiry play out, let's see what the findings are and then go from there."
The Labour leader added: "The Prime Minister has lost huge authority with the public because of these allegations of parties in Downing Street.
"To stand at a press conference, instructing the country to comply with restrictions - which really impacted families across the country - whilst at the same time there's emerging evidence of parties in Downing Street does diminish his authority, his moral authority, to ask others to comply with those rules.
"That's why it's so damaging - it's not just a matter of history, it's a matter of the here and now."