What rule-breaking parties are alleged to have happened at Downing Street?

A host of claims about social gatherings have surfaced since the story about a possible No 10 staff party in December 2020 first broke.

Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street

A drip-feed of reports have made a number of claims about Covid rule-breaking parties held in Downing Street and elsewhere in Government last year.

Here is a list of what has been alleged.

November 13, 2020 – A leaving party for senior aide

According to reports at the time, Boris Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and close ally of former chief Downing Street adviser, Dominic Cummings.

England was in a month-long lockdown at the time when meeting people from other households indoors was banned, except for work purposes.

One of the staff dos is said to have been for former Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain
One of the staff dos is said to have been for former Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain (Victoria Jones/PA)

November 13 – Johnsons’ flat party

There are allegations that the Prime Minister’s then fiancee hosted parties in their flat, in what would also have been a breach of Covid guidance, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 – the night Mr Cummings departed No 10.

Mr Cummings, who has become a vocal critic of Mr Johnson and his now wife, Carrie Johnson, since his exit from No 10, has called for Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s investigation into possible rule breaches to include the so-called “flat party”.

A spokesman for Mrs Johnson has called the claim “total nonsense”.

November 27 – A second staff leaving do

The Mirror, in the newspaper’s original report breaking the story, said that, while the Prime Minister did not attend the alleged No 10 flat party in December, he did give a farewell speech to an aide at the end of November, while the lockdown in England was still in place.

Other reports have said the leaving do was for Cleo Watson, a senior Downing Street aide and ally of Mr Cummings.

December 10 – Department for Education (DfE) party

According to The Mirror, former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department’s Whitehall headquarters, which took place while London was in Tier 2, which banned any social mixing between households.

The DfE confirmed the social event happened but acknowledged that “it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time”.

December 14 – Party featuring Tory London mayoral candidate and staff

The Times has reported that a “raucous” party, at which Shaun Bailey, the Tory candidate for mayor of London, was allegedly present, took place at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ).

The Conservatives have admitted that an “unauthorised social gathering” had been uncovered and that “formal disciplinary action” had been taken against four CCHQ staff as a result.

December 18 – Christmas party at Downing Street

The claim at the centre of the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.

An investigation has been ordered by the Prime Minister, with the Cabinet Secretary expected to delve into suggestions that officials and advisers made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts.

The alleged gathering, which is said to have taken place in the No 10 press office, only yards from Mr Johnson’s study, reportedly took place less than 24 hours before the Prime Minister announced that those in England could not see loved ones from other households over Christmas.

Asked whether Mr Johnson attended drinks on December 18, his press secretary said: “I think we can be very clear that the Prime Minister was working all evening on that particular date.”

December (unknown date) – Christmas quiz in the Cabinet Office

At a date said to be “around” when the alleged No 10 party took place, the Times say a Christmas quiz was held both for officials and advisers in Downing Street.

The newspaper quotes a “Government figure” who said that Dan Rosenfield, who was waiting to take up his new role as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff at the time, was in the building when it happened.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary insisted on Wednesday that the quiz was “entirely virtual”.

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