Jeremy Corbyn apologises for 'breaking rule of six' at dinner party

1 October 2020, 05:33 | Updated: 1 October 2020, 08:49

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for having a dinner party with more than six guests
Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for having a dinner party with more than six guests. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised after being pictured attending a dinner party with eight other people, in an apparent breach of the rule of six.

The former Labour leader was pictured in The Sun at a friend's house in London on Saturday.

Measures limiting the number of people who can gather together were brought in on 14 September in an effort to bring down the rapidly rising Covid-19 cases.

Mr Corbyn told newspaper: “I recently had dinner at a friend’s house where the number of guests eventually exceeded five.

"I understand that remaining at the dinner was a breach of the rule of six. I apologise for my mistake.”

Speaking with Nick Ferrari on LBC on Thursday, Environment Secretary George Eustice said he didn't think Mr Corbyn should be fined.

He told LBC: "My view is that fines should be reserved for people who are wilfully and repeatedly breaching the regulations we have in place.

Environment Secretary: Corbyn and Stanley Johnson shouldn't be fined

"I don't think they are appropriate for people who may innocent errors or an oversight or forget something. I think in both and the case of the Prime Minister's own father who was pictured without a mask, they both accepted that they were wrong and have apologised."

He added: "You have to step back and recognise that these are emergency measures, quite extraordinary in some ways, to tell people that they can't meet in groups of more than six, that you have to wear masks and so on.

"These are extraordinary emergency measures and the use of a financial penalty and a fine should be reserved for the most egregious cases."

Read more: PM warns of 'critical moment' as he urges public to stick to the rules

The rule has caused confusion over recent days, with Boris Johnson being forced to make an apology after getting the rules wrong.

Boris Johnson has urged people to follow the rules to stem the spread of the virus
Boris Johnson has urged people to follow the rules to stem the spread of the virus. Picture: PA

Mr Johnson had wrongly suggested that people in the North East could gather in groups larger than six in outdoor settings.

However, this was wrong as current rules in England state gatherings of more than six people - whether it be indoors or outdoors - are banned.

When asked to clarify the rules in the North East, Mr Johnson said: "On the rule of six, outside the areas such as the North East where extra measures have been brought in, it's six inside, six outside, and in the North East or other areas where extra tight measures have been brought in you should follow the guidance of local authorities.

Read more: Boris Johnson accuses Sir Keir Starmer of 'sniping from sidelines' over Covid-19

"But it is six in a home, six in hospitality, but as I understand it, not six outside. That is the situation here."

First-time offenders who break this rule will be fined £200, which will double with every subsequent offence up to £3,200.

But the PM quickly apologised for the mistake.

Boris Johnson warns of further measures if coronavirus advice ignored

He tweeted: "In the North East, new rules mean you cannot meet people from different households in social settings indoors, including in pubs, restaurants and your home. You should also avoid socialising with other households outside.

"This is vital to control the spread of coronavirus and keep everyone safe. If you are in a high risk area, please continue to follow the guidelines from local authorities. "

During PMQs in the Commons on Wednesday, current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the PM of "not knowing his own rules".

Mr Johnson responded by telling Sir Keir to stop "sniping from the sidelines".