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

9 December 2021, 14:25 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 20:57

An official inquiry will investigate three alleged conservative staff parties
An official inquiry will investigate three alleged conservative staff parties. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

An inquiry will investigate three separate allegations of Conservative staff parties which are said to have taken place during lockdown last year.

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The Cabinet Secretary will scrutinise two reported Downing Street parties held on November 27 and December 18 alongside one party held at the education department on December 10.

At the alleged party on December 18 - which has sparked a huge row and led to the resignation of Boris Johnson's former spokesperson Allegra Stratton - it is thought that Downing Street's director of communications Jack Doyle gave a speech to the press team of about 20-30 people.

He also gave out awards, according to multiple reports, and there was food, drinks and games at the gathering.

Top civil servant Simon Case will head the investigations to "establish swiftly" a general understanding of the "nature" of the allegations including "attendance, the setting and the purpose".

Labour called for the prime minister to resign if he is found to have misled MPs about the parties.

Mr Case's inquiry was ordered by the Prime Minister after a leaked video emerged showing Downing Street aides laughing about a "fictional" party at Number 10 in December 2020.

But the Health Secretary said the probe into the allegations could be widened to include other claims despite being given "assurances" by "senior" officials that no Covid rules were broken by Downing Street staff.

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

Read more: Tory Party admits 'gathering' at HQ in December 2020 amid Downing Street Xmas party row

Sajid Javid told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "If the rules were not broken, then a party could not take place.

"But having this investigation, having the Cabinet Secretary look into this, is the right response because this is the individual who can talk to anyone, can get the data, the evidence together and establish the facts."

The Cabinet Minister's comments come as the Conservative Party acknowledged a gathering took place at its headquarters during coronavirus restrictions last December.

A Tory spokesperson admitted an "unauthorised social gathering" had taken place on December 14 - when London was in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions, banning indoor mixing between households.

The "raucous" party was reportedly organised by Shaun Bailey's campaign team and it is thought around 25 people attended.

Read more: PM’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton tearfully quits over Xmas party video leak

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

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick is facing mounting pressure over the force's handling of the No10 Christmas party storm after MP Barry Gardiner told LBC she should have demanded evidence into the allegations from the very beginning.

The Met announced last night it will not examine the alleged Downing Street Christmas party despite receiving "a significant amount of correspondence" relating to the alleged breaches in No 10 in the run up to Christmas last year.

But the force did leave open the possibility of further inquiries by saying it would consider "any evidence" that emerges in the Case inquiry.

Whilst three parties are set to be investigated, as many as seven parties may have been held during the festive period of 2020.

Read more: Up to seven Government Christmas parties held while Brits isolated, it is claimed