Up to nine Government parties held while Brits isolated, it is claimed

11 January 2022, 19:10

James O'Brien reviews the 7 alleged Downing St Christmas parties of last year.

By Emma Soteriou

The Government held as many as nine parties during 2020, despite strict Covid regulations being in place, it is claimed.

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During the first year of the pandemic a whole host of restrictions were in place, most of the UK had been prevented from seeing loved ones due to the rules that were in place at the time.

However, it is being alleged that officials in Downing Street were instead spending their time at social gatherings - going against regulations.

These are the details of up to nine parties that are supposed to have taken place during 2020.

May 20- BYOB party

On May 20, a bring your own boozy party is alleged to have been held after ITV obtained an email inviting No10 staff to an event to 'make the most of the the lovely weather' in the spring of 2020.

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.

MP breaks down in tears responding to No.10 parties

Read more: No10 staff invited to lockdown-busting boozy party on 20 May 2020, leaked email reveals

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!"

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.

Read more: MPs weep in partygate debate as Boris faces fury for ducking showdown

November 13 - First leaving party

On November 13, a leaving party was allegedly held for Lee Cain - Boris Johnson’s departing director of communications.

The Prime Minister is said to have given a speech at the event.

Read more: Fuming Tory MPs threaten revolt over Covid rules that order WFH but allow Xmas parties

Read more: Pressure mounts on Met chief over decision not to investigate No10 party claims

Claims of party at PM's flat on November 13 won't be investigated

November 13 - Second leaving do

A second party is also reported to have taken place on the same day.

It has been rumoured that the leaving do "continued upstairs" for Dominic Cummings, who left on the same day.

However, it has been suggested they were instead separate events, with Mr Cummings tweeting about the "flat party" following the announcement of an internal investigation on Wednesday.

Read more: Police to 'make contact' with two people over alleged Covid breaches after Tory Xmas party

November 27 - Third leaving do

Up to 50 people are said to have gone to Downing Street - including aide Ed Lister - for a leaving do on November 27, according to the Mail.

It is claimed that staff crammed 'cheek by jowl' into a small room while England was in its second lockdown, with Boris Johnson giving a speech.

A source told the paper it was for aide Cleo Watson, who had worked closely with Dominic Cummings.

Read more: PM issues grovelling apology as he’s accused of ‘taking public for fools’

December 10 - Department of Education

Several reports claimed that the then Education Secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and gave a short speech on December 10 2020, when London was in Tier 2, which banned mixing between households.

Following the revelation, the department admitted it should have cancelled the event.

A spokesperson said: "On December 10 2020 a gathering of colleagues who were already present at the office - and who had worked together throughout the pandemic, as they couldn't work from home - took place in the DfE office building in London at a time when the city was subject to Tier 2 restrictions.

"The gathering was used to thank those staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

"Drinks and snacks were brought by those attending and no outside guests or supporting staff were invited or present.

"While this was work-related, looking back we accept it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time."

Caller furious over No 10 Xmas party

December 14 - Tory HQ

A Tory spokesperson acknowledged that an "unauthorised social gathering" had taken place on December 14, once again when London was in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions.

A picture showed 24 people - including Shaun Bailey and billionaire conservative donor Nick Candy - raising glasses of wine in front of a catered buffet.

Read more: Shaun Bailey quits police role after pic shows him grinning at Tory HQ Xmas bash

Read more: No10 Xmas party probe looking at multiple dates, not just Dec 18th, Health Sec tells LBC

The spokesperson said: "Senior CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of Matthew Parker Street organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of December 14.

"Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Bailey campaign."

The Conservative London mayor candidate quit as chair of a police and crime committee after the picture emerged.

December 12 - Simon Case quiz

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has "recused himself" from leading an investigation into alleged parties held across Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions after it was reported that an events was held in his own department.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "Staff in the Cabinet Secretary's private office took part in a virtual quiz on 17 December 2020.

"A small number of them, who had been working in the office throughout the pandemic and on duty that day, took part from their desks, while the rest of the team were virtual.

"The Cabinet Secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office. No outside guests or other staff were invited or present.

"This lasted for an hour and drinks and snacks were bought by those attending. He also spoke briefly to staff in the office before leaving."

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

December 18 - Wine, cheese and Secret Santa

This is the Christmas party that has particularly come under fire, with a video leaking of Mr Johnson's aides joking about it taking place, despite ministers denying it on several occasions.

Allegra Stratton - who was filmed making the comments - has since resigned.

However, Mr Johnson still insists that all Covid rules were followed and told MPs on Wednesday that he had been assured it did not go ahead.

The Metropolitan Police has refused to investigate the claims due to a lack of evidence, however, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is set to look into what happened.

He will investigate three parties: one at Downing Street on November 27, the Department Education's gathering on December 10 and the No10 Christmas party on December 18.

Read more: New restrictions introduced in 'diversionary tactic'

Christmas quiz

A Christmas quiz is also said to have been held in the Cabinet Office for senior advisers and officials at an unknown date in December, according to reports in The Times.

Invites were reportedly sent out in advance, with Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield thought to have attended.

However, some sources told the paper that it was "entirely virtual", suggesting some may have instead participated from their desks.