Another revelation, another party: UK PM Johnson flouted covid rules attending yet another party last year

WION Web Team
London, United KingdomUpdated: Dec 17, 2021, 01:09 PM IST
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Johnson, who won a landslide victory in a 2019 election, has been facing criticism over allegations that there were parties in breach of COVID-19 rules in government offices Photograph:(AFP)

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There were rules at the time prohibiting the meeting of more than two people. Only two people from different households were permitted to meet outside at a distance of 2 metres

In another instance of the UK prime minister Boris Johnson breaking the rules, a new revelation has emerged about another party he attended. This has yet again raised questions about whether there was a culture of flouting rules.

Apparently, Boris Johnson attended a party hosted by staff at Number 10 in May of last year.

During the alleged social gathering on 15 May 2020, the prime minister spent about 15 minutes with staff, telling one staffer that they deserved a drink for battling coronavirus, a Guardian and Independent investigation revealed.

On that day, about 20 staff members drank wine and ate pizza following a press conference, some in offices inside No. 10 and others in the garden. The staff allegedly continued drinking until late at night.

There were rules at the time prohibiting the meeting of more than two people. Only two people from different households were permitted to meet outside at a distance of 2 metres. 

Matt Hancock, then health secretary, had earlier that evening urged people to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid taking risks.

This revelation follows a series of similar reports about what happened in Downing Street and elsewhere during the subsequent lockdown last Christmas, suggesting rules may have been broken for months.

The Metropolitan Police have also announced that they will contact two people who attended the Conservative Party's headquarters Christmas party on 14 December 2020, when indoor socializing between households was prohibited.

​​​​​​​Around two dozen people were at the gathering, including Shaun Bailey, the Tories’ London mayoral candidate, and his campaign manager, Ben Mallet.

Scotland Yard did not name the people they sought to speak with, but it said it was investigating alleged violations of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations.

Sources said Hancock also attended the event that had a "celebratory" atmosphere due to the initial ease of restrictions and the pleasant weather in London.

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Both Johnson and Hancock were reportedly present when staff and aides were drinking, but it is not known if they drank themselves or stayed late.

Johnson's official spokesperson responded to questions regarding Johnson's presence at the alleged party and said that the garden is regularly used by Downing Street staff for meetings during the summer months. 

He specified that the prime minister left the Downing Street garden shortly after 7 pm, only a few staff needed for work remained during part of the afternoon and evening.

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The claims are a further blow to Johnson, who is being widely ridiculed for insisting that no rules were broken following reports detailing apparent lockdown breaches last winter.

This included a party that was allegedly held on 18 December 2020 and included wine and cheese as well as a "secret Santa" exchange among staff. This was when all indoor socialising was prohibited in London.

There are also reports that Johnson attended an earlier event on 27 November last year, which was believed to be an impromptu farewell to an aide, Cleo Watson.