'I'm told there was no party': Raab denies No10 Christmas party

5 December 2021, 12:41

Dominic Raab dodges questioning over Xmas party

By Sophie Barnett

Dominic Raab has denied that Downing Street held Christmas parties in breach of Covid regulations, telling LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday he "was told there was no party".

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The deputy prime minister was quizzed over the allegations that Boris Johnson had given a speech at a packed leaving party for a senior aide last November, when the country was in the midst of a second lockdown.

The Daily Mirror also said members of his No10 team then held their own festive party in the days before Christmas, while London was under Tier 3 restrictions.

Tom Swarbrick asked the deputy PM whether a party took place on December 18.

Mr Raab said he couldn't tell him any more than what the PM has already said, adding it was "very crystal clear" that the rules were followed.

Read more: Met considering complaints from Labour MPs over PM's Christmas party accusations

Boris Johnson challenged over 'illegal' Christmas party

He said: "The PM has been clear that there was consistent respect for the rules and frankly we've got a sort of media regurgitating this unsubstantiated set of anonymous claims rather than something substantiated or clear."

Tom pressed Mr Raab, asking: "Is it clear about what actually happened? It could be substantiated now by saying a party did or did not happen."

"Well I wasn't there, I'm told there was no party that took place," said Mr Raab.

"But i wasn't there, and what's been clear from the PM is there was consistent compliance with all the rules."

Mr Raab added that the police have made it clear that they wouldn't normally look back at something like this over a year ago.

He continued: "But of course we respect any decision that the police make".

Read more: Met says no complaints received over No 10 'lockdown parties' as Labour demands probe

Is the Downing Street Christmas party being investigated?

Labour backbenchers Neil Coyle and Barry Gardiner have each written to Scotland Yard asking police to investigate the reports.

It comes after Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told LBC on Friday that no complaints had been received about alleged lockdown parties - something that Mr Gardiner expressed surprise at in his letter.

Mr Johnson has not denied the events took place but said no rules were broken - although he has repeatedly refused to explain how that could be the case.

Read more: David Lammy furiously reacts to Downing St Christmas party reports

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that while it did not routinely investigate "retrospective" breaches of the Covid regulations, it was considering the correspondence it had received.

In his letter to the police, Mr Coyle said: "The sense of outrage from constituents is palpable that they followed the rules while those responsible for devising and enforcing them were breaching them at the top of government.

"The Prime Minister has been questioned on this and has replied that 'no Covid rules were broken' but from reading the guidance I believe even holding these events was a breach of the rules at the time."

Christmas party bookings back to 2019 levels, pub boss confirms

In his letter, Mr Gardiner expressed surprise about Dame Cressida's comments on LBC.

"If these events did take place, it implies that there is one rule for the Government and another for everyone else," he said.

"I believe your officers should investigate the matter further to establish the facts and to see if any laws might have been broken."

In a statement, the force said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting and has received correspondence relating to alleged breaches of the health protection regulations at a Government building on two dates in November and December 2020.

"It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations; we will however consider the correspondence received."

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