How has Boris Johnson responded to claims of Covid rule-busting parties?

- Advertisement -

The Prime Minister has started another week in hot water amid allegations that a “bring your own booze” garden party took place in Downing Street during England’s first lockdown in May 2020.

This is not the first time Boris Johnson has faced criticism over rule-busting gatherings said to have occurred during the pandemic.

On Monday, he dodged a question over his involvement in the alleged BYOB event – deferring to an ongoing investigation by senior official Sue Gray into numerous allegations of lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.

Here is what the PM has said in response to similar claims made in the past.

In December 2021, a photo emerged showing Boris and Carrie Johnson, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, sitting around a table in the No 10 garden during the first national lockdown.

Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 20 2021: “Those were meetings of people at work. This is where I live and it’s where I work. Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.”

-May 20 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (BYOB)

The latest revelation came in an email, leaked to ITV, from Mr Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees asking them to “bring your own booze” for an evening gathering.

Multiple reports have suggested that the Prime Minister attended the event with his wife.

While the email emerged on Monday afternoon, the story began to unfold on Friday and over the weekend.

Asked if he and his wife attended a Downing Street party that was organised by Mr Reynolds on May 20 2020, Mr Johnson said on January 10 2022: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”

Carrie and Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds outside Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and close ally of Mr Cummings.

There are also allegations that the Prime Minister’s then-fiancee hosted parties in their flat, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 2020, the night Mr Cummings departed No 10.

Mr Johnson was asked in the House of Commons on December 8 2021: “Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether there was a party in Downing Street on November 13?”

He replied: “No, but I’m sure that whatever happened the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”

-December 15 2020: Downing Street quiz

The Sunday Mirror published an image in December 2021 showing the Prime Minister flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in No 10 the previous year.

Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson “briefly” attended the quiz after photographic evidence emerged, but insisted it was a virtual event.

In an interview on December 13 2021, the PM said: “I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules – the whole thing will be looked into by the Cabinet Secretary, and what I’m focused on, frankly, is the vaccine rollout.”

Downing Street Christmas tree
Mr Johnson apologised over the impression given ‘that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

According to reports which first emerged at the end of November 2021, officials and advisers made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts – although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.

Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 7 2021: “I have satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”

He said in the House of Commons on December 8 2021: “I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken. That is what I have been repeatedly assured.

“But I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to establish all the facts and to report back as soon as possible. It goes without saying that if those rules were broken, there will be disciplinary action for all those involved.”

The PM also said in the Commons on December 8 2021: “I apologise for the impression that has been given that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously. I am sickened myself and furious about that, but I repeat what I have said to him: I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken.”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.