Cummings: I'll swear under oath that PM lied - as No10 'denies' latest Partygate claims

18 January 2022, 05:31 | Updated: 18 January 2022, 08:25

Dominic Cummings has, amid the partygate scandal, claimed that Boris Johnson lied to Parliament.
Dominic Cummings has, amid the partygate scandal, claimed that Boris Johnson lied to Parliament. Picture: Alamy

By Sam Sholli

Dominic Cummings has said he is prepared to swear under oath that Boris Johnson lied to Parliament about a "BYOB" party that took place while England was in lockdown.

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The Prime Minister's former senior adviser has written in a blog post that events which took place on May 20 alone "mean the PM lied to Parliament about parties".

Mr Cummings wrote that MPs should focus on the fundamental facts of what took place, which he says are:

  • The PM’s Principal Private Secretary (PPS), Martin Reynolds, invited people to a drinks party.
  • The PPS was told to cancel the invite by at least two people.
  • He checked with the PM whether the party should go ahead.
  • The PM agreed it should.
  • They both went to the party.
  • It was actually a drinks party.
  • The PM told MPs repeatedly that he had no idea about any parties.

In the blog post, Mr Cummings wrote: "The events of 20 May alone, never mind the string of other events, mean the PM lied to Parliament about parties.

"Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened."

However, a No10 spokesperson has denied the claims.

The spokesperson said: "It is untrue that the Prime Minister was warned about the event in advance.

"As he said earlier this week, he believed implicitly that this was a work event.

"He has apologised to the House and is committed to making a further statement once the investigation concludes."

Read more: 'It would've been for work': Rachel Johnson breaks silence on partygate

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

'The number 10 garden is an extension of the office.'

Read more: 'It was a work event': Boris sorry for attending No10 lockdown party but won't resign

Mr Cummings' claims have come after ITV earlier this month reported on an email inviting Number 10 staff to a boozy event to "make the most of the the lovely weather" in the spring of 2020.

The email, reportedly sent by the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to over a hundred employees in Number 10, said: “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!"

It was reported that around 40 staff gathered in the Number 10 garden on the evening of May 20th, including Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie.

Tory cllr hits out at 'unacceptable' culture at No10

Several ministers have since spoken out against No10 over the scandal, the latest being health minister Maria Caulfield and science minister George Freeman.

Ms Caulfield said in a statement that it was clear "that there was a culture inside Number 10" which, regardless of whether the rules were "technically" broken, showed that "the spirit of the rules were".

Meanwhile, Mr Freeman was "shocked and flabbergasted" by the revelations, according to The Times.

He said the gatherings had caused "serious damage" to public trust in the Government.

Iain Dale on news of two No 10 sources confirming Cummings' claims

Last week, the Prime Minister broke his silence on the partygate revelations, saying he spent around 25 minutes at the "bring your own booze" party in May 2020, which 100 people were reportedly invited to.

He told MPs during last week's PMQs: "No 10 is a big department with a garden as an extension of the office which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus.

"When I went into that garden just after six on May 20, 2020, to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event."

"I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months.

"I know the anguish they have been through - unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love."

Read more: 'Boris said sorry, Keir should too': Zahawi blasts Labour leader over partygate

'If the Sarah Everard Vigil had been BYOB would the Met Police have ignored it?'

"I know the rage they feel with me and with the Government I lead when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.

"And though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility."

He added: "I should have recognised that even if it [the garden event] could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there are millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies."

Just hours after Mr Johnson issued the humiliating apology, fresh allegations were made over a party held in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, leading to renewed calls for the Prime Minister to resign.

The two parties were leaving dos - one of which was for James Slack, Boris Johnson's director of communications at the time who was leaving after four years to become deputy editor at The Sun.

The other was reportedly one of Mr Johnson's personal photographers.

No10 staff are accused of drinking and at points dancing until the early hours on April 16 - with the Queen, just hours later, attending a socially-distanced funeral for Philip.

The country was under strict 'Step Two' rules at the time, which meant mixing indoor was banned, and mourners were even told not to leave flowers for Prince Philip due to the Covid threat.

The Government's own guidance read: "You must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble. You can meet outdoors, including in gardens, in groups of six people or two households."

On Friday, Downing Street issued an apology to Buckingham Palace over the parties.