Boris under fire: PM's senior aide 'gave speech at Downing Street Christmas party'

10 December 2021, 07:23 | Updated: 10 December 2021, 09:33

Jack Doyle, bottom right, is said to have given a speech at the event.
Jack Doyle, bottom right, is said to have given a speech at the event. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

One of Boris Johnson's senior aides gave a speech at the alleged December 18 Christmas party, it has been claimed.

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Jack Doyle, who was deputy director of communications at No 10 at the time, addressed up to 50 people at the gathering, according to reports from ITV News.

It is understood he spoke to the press office to thank them for their work, as he did every week, and presented some awards to mark the team's efforts.

Downing Street refused to comment further than to say a fact-finding review was ongoing and Mr Doyle has been approached for comment.

It comes after a leaked video showed Mr Johnson's aides joking about the party in December 2020, despite ministers insisting that it did not take place and Covid rules were not broken.

Read more: Boris backlash: Three parties probed as pressure grows on PM over Xmas scandal

Read more: Boris cancels Xmas party amid fury over lockdown bash but says gatherings can go ahead

You told me there was no party last week!

Allegra Stratton - the spokesperson who appeared in the clip - tearfully issued a statement following the leak, resigning from her role.

As a result, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is set to investigate the alleged December 18 event as well as two others reported to have taken place while Covid restrictions were in place.

Mr Johnson announced the internal investigation during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, after having been fielding criticism from across the political spectrum over the string of allegations.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: "As more details emerge about the Downing Street Christmas party, the Government's internal investigation has been exposed as the sham it is.

"The investigation has only just published its terms of reference and we are already seeing more details from the media than the Cabinet Office about the parties."

Downing Street said: "There is an ongoing review, and we won't be commenting further while that is the case."

Mr Johnson has remained under increased pressure in recent days, with the Tories also being fined over £17,000 by the Electoral Commission for breaking rules around declaring cash for the Downing Street flat refurbishment.

Ms Rayner accused the Prime Minister of having "lied" to his standards adviser Lord Geidt by saying he did not know who was behind the payment, but No 10 insisted Mr Johnson had been honest and followed the rules "at all times".