Boris Johnson faces a fresh wave of anger after it emerged that Downing Street hosted two parties during last year’s Covid restrictions.
Up to 30 staff were said to have stayed up drinking until the early hours at two separate events on April 16. while indoor mixing was still banned and the rule of six applied to outdoor gatherings.
One event was a leaving do for the PM’s then-director of communications, James Slack, now deputy editor of The Sun, who apologised for the ‘anger and hurt caused’.
A No 10 spokesperson described the gathering as a ‘leaving speech’ attended by staff, but Mr Slack acknowledged it ‘should not have happened at the time that it did’.
According to The Telegraph, another leaving do for one of Mr Johnson’s personal photographers saw loud music and occasional dancing in the Downing Street basement, with one staff member sent to a Co-op with a suitcase to fetch more booze.
Both groups reportedly combined outside around midnight, where one guest was said to have broken a swing used by the PM’s one-year-old son, Wilfred.
Although Covid cases and deaths were near their lowest ebb of the year, the events were hosted while many of the restrictions brought in to tackle the UK’s Delta-driven second wave were still in place.
The partying is also alleged to have taken place during the period of national mourning for Prince Philip, and stands in stark contrast to scenes at his funeral the next day.
Restrictions meant only 30 people could attend the service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, rather than the 800 expected for an occasion of its significance.
The choir was limited to four singers, while guests were not allowed to sing along.
Well-wishers were told not to gather outside any royal residences, while the palace scrapped plans for military processions in honour of the Duke.
While Number 10 officials nursed likely hangovers, the Queen donned a face mask and sat socially-distanced from her family.
A widely-shared photo of the solemn monarch was seen as emblematic of the personal sacrifices the country had to make in response to the virus, and is now being recirculated on social media as a contrast to goings-on at Number 10.
The gatherings are now being investigated by Sue Gray, the civil servant looking into the ever-expanding list of alleged lockdown-breaking events dating from May 2020.
A No 10 spokesperson said Boris Johnson did not attend the Friday, April 16 gatherings and stayed at Chequers, the PM’s country house, from the Thursday through to the Saturday.
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