BoJo Accused of Attending No 10 'Party' to Toast 'Beating Back the Virus' During First UK Lockdown

© AFP 2022 / ADRIAN DENNISBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering to stop the spread of coronavirus, leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 8, 2021
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering to stop the spread of coronavirus, leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 8, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
Boris Johnson has been feeling the heat over reports of illicit Christmas gatherings at Downing Street during last year’s coronavirus lockdown, with the Prime Minister himself recently accused of breaking the Tier 2 rules in mid-December 2020 by hosting a staff quiz at No 10.
Boris Johnson joined a group of about 20 civil servants and advisers for celebratory drinks on 15 May last year inside No 10 Downing Street and its garden during the first COVID-19 lockdown, reported the Independent.
The Prime Minister reportedly attended the gathering for around 15 minutes, remarking to an attendee that they deserved a drink for “beating back” the virus. Gatherings indoors were strictly forbidden at the time, with people from different households only allowed to meet one-on-one outdoors.
The alleged gathering took place after Matt Hancock, who was the UK Health Secretary at the time, had delivered a televised press conference to confirm that 384 coronavirus deaths had been recorded in the previous 24 hours, urging the public to play their part in clamping down on the spread of the disease by following social distancing rules.
However, Hancock also noted a gentle easing of restrictions. Two days earlier, it was announced that People could now meet one other person from another household, outside, for the first time since lockdown was set in place in March 2020.
After the press conference finished at around 6pm that evening, staffers indulged in pizza and drinks, including alcohol, wine, beer and coke mixed with spirits, were said to have been poured at desks. Some staffers are described as then proceeding out into the Downing Street garden, beverages in hand, to enjoy the spell of good weather.
According to the joint investigation by the Independent and The Guardian, many of the people in the group lingered on until late into the night.
According to a cited source who attended the “party”, staffers had planned in advance to stay on for drinks. Hancock, who resigned earlier this year after being caught kissing an aide in breach of social distancing guidelines, is also said to have been present during the event.
The report does not suggest that either Johnson or Hancock partook of the alcoholic beverages or stayed late at the no 10 “party”.
The event is claimed to have taken place days after the PM addressed the nation on 10 May, touting plans to ease pandemic restrictions, while urging the public to adhere to social distancing rules.
“You must obey the rules on social distancing, and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them,” Johnson had stated.

Lockdown Xmas Parties Row

The latest revelations pile ever more pressure on the Prime Minister, already under fire over the alleged lockdown-breaching No 10 Christmas parties scandal, with the Cabinet Office probing staff gatherings at Number 10 Downing Street and the Department For Education in November and December, 2020.
A man holds a sign as he protests against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Westminster, London, Britain, December 15, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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In response to the new allegations, a No 10 spokesperson was cited as saying:
“In the summer months Downing Street staff regularly use the garden for some meetings. On 15 May 2020 the prime minister held a series of meetings throughout the afternoon, including briefly with the then health and care secretary and his team in the garden following a press conference. The prime minister went to his residence shortly after 7pm. A small number of staff required to be in work remained in the Downing Street garden for part of the afternoon and evening.”
The Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden has also stated that the alleged gathering during lockdown took place outside.
A spokesperson for Matt Hancock dismissed the new allegations as “not true.” It was added that Hancock arrived at Downing Street at 4:43pm, and gave the press conference that evening “on lifting lockdown measures.”
“After the press conference, which finished at approximately 5:53pm, Matt debriefed his own team, then went to the Downing Street garden to debrief the prime minister. He left Downing Street at 6:32pm and went back to the Department of Health and Social Care,” stated the spokesperson.
Boris Johnson has been fending off a barrage of damning allegations in recent weeks, as reports emerged of a series of parties held in No 10 and Whitehall at the end of last year during strict COVId-19 restrictions.
After ITV News released a video showing some of Johnson’s senior advisers laughing about a party which allegedly took place on 18 December 2020, while London was under Tier 3 restrictions, the PM confirmed that an investigation would be carried out by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
Case will also look into more recent allegations after a picture was published by The Mirror of Boris Johnson allegedly hosting a Downing Street Christmas quiz on 15 December "in breach of COVID laws" imposed on London and most of the country in 2020. The probe will also cover accusations that rules were broken on 10 December at a festive drinks party held at the Department for Education.
While Downing Street has confirmed the PM “briefly” attended the “virtual” quiz at the end of last year, in response to the reports, Boris Johnson said: "I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.12.2021
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Case has been given “a broad remit to investigate anything he thinks should be [investigated], any type of gathering at Downing Street that should be looked at, on any particular day he wants to,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid was quoted by Sky News as saying.
Scotland Yard, meanwhile, acknowledged that it was maintaining contact with the Cabinet Office throughout the probe into staff gatherings at Number 10 Downing Street and the Department For Education in November and December, 2020. It added that it was aware of a gathering at an address in Matthew Parker Street, SW1 on 14 December 2020.
The Metropolitan Police Office stated that after receiving a significant amount of material in relation to the earlier allegations reported in the media, it concluded that it does not provide evidence of a breach of the Health Protection Regulations.
“In line with our policy where we do not normally investigate breaches of these regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place, unless there is evidence from the Cabinet Office or other evidence comes to light, the Met will not at this time commence an investigation,” concluded the Met.
It was added that should any evidence emerge of “behaviour that is potentially a criminal offence” it would be further considered.
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