More Downing Street gatherings now under the spotlight – Owl losing count

As an investigation is launched into a party held in No 10, other alleged gatherings are under the spotlight amid allegations that some in Downing Street may have contravened Covid rules.

Aubrey Allegretti www.theguardian.com 

An inquiry announced by the prime minister, however, is focused on facts surrounding what happened on 18 December 2020.

18 December 2020 – Downing Street Christmas party

A party was held in No 10 when London was in tier 3 restrictions, which banned social events, according to multiple sources after the Daily Mirror first broke the story last week. Several dozen people – a mix of civil service and political staff – reportedly attended and were told to bring “secret Santa” presents, with cheese and wine laid on.

While Boris Johnson’s spokesperson insisted no rules had been broken and then denied any party took place, a video filmed four days after the event was published by ITV.

The leaked footage showed Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s then aide, rehearsing for televised press conferences and laughing and joking with aides about a party on 18 December. Stratton all but confirmed the event took place by laughing it off as a “business meeting” but added: “It was not socially distanced.” Cabinet secretary Simon Case will investigate what rules may have been broken.

10 December – Gavin Williamson’s staff party

Earlier in the month, when London was in tier 2, which only allowed socialising in groups of six outside, then-education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party in his Whitehall department.

The most senior civil servant in the department, Susan Acland-Hood, attended and admitted that there was a “work-related” gathering hosted in the canteen. She did not dispute people were drinking wine, and blamed Williamson for instigating the event.

She recalled he wanted to “say a few words” to thank staff after a difficult year. Acland-Hood confirmed Case would also consider the Department for Education event as part of his investigation into Westminster parties.

Unspecified date in December – a festive No 10 quiz

On an unspecified date also in December, a Christmas quiz was organised for No 10 staff, the BBC said, with invites emailed to everyone who worked in the building.

Some guests were said to have dialled in by Zoom but others apparently attended in-person and sat in groups of six, some wearing Christmas jumpers. Downing Street was contacted for comment.

27 November – Downing Street leaving do

While England was still in the grip of its second national lockdown, a leaving do was organised in No 10 – said to have been for Cleo Watson, a former aide to Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings.

A source told the Guardian that Johnson personally attended and gave a speech, remarking on how full with people the room was, before leaving to continue working.

At the time, socialising in groups from different households was completely banned and people were ordered to work from home, though key workers could continue going into the office.

13 November – Boris and Carrie Johnson flat party

The latest alleged party to emerge dates to around midway through England’s second lockdown and relates to the Downing Street flat where Johnson and his wife live.

The accusation came from Cummings and the event was said to have taken place on the same evening he left Downing Street for good. After Case’s review into the 18 December party was announced, Cummings urged the cabinet secretary to also investigate a party in the Johnsons’ flat.

He alleged there had been “other flat parties” and suggested the pair’s “bubble” policy should be investigated. Asked this week if a party went ahead in his flat on 13 November, Johnson said “no”.

The prime minister’s “bubble” has come under scrutiny before, after his spokesperson did not deny that a close friend of Carrie Johnson – Nimco Ali – stayed with them last Christmas. One of the explanations offered was that Ali was considered part of the Johnsons’ childcare support bubble.

3 thoughts on “More Downing Street gatherings now under the spotlight – Owl losing count

  1. Here is the list of Conservative Government Christmas Parties from last year in defiance of a lockdown that everyone else was expected to follow under threat of significant fines:

    10 Downing Street = 27/11/20 (apparently impromptu but still illegal) and 18/12/20
    Department for Education – 10/12/20
    Boris’ 11 Downing Street flat – 13/11/20
    Cabinet Office – sometime in December 2020
    Conservative Party HQ – 14/12/20

    Source: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/dec/09/a-look-at-alleged-covid-rule-breaking-parties-across-westminster

    This is not simply misjudgement by a single minister – this is a pattern of behaviour of an elite drunk on power who think that the rules and laws do not need to apply to them, and who think that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and that they will never be held to account for it.

    And since they have watered down the means that they can be held accountable over the past decade, and are continuing to do so with current Bills, it appears that this is a deliberate destruction of democracy in order to retain power and continue to increase the wealth gap for themselves and their friends whilst creating a national hostile environment for ordinary people.

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  2. This Minister’s Interests report seems to have two points of interest (if I understand the situation clearly):

    a. Contrary to the information given to Lord Geidt, WhatApp messages now disclosed seem to indicate that Boris lied to Lord Geidt about the degree of his knowledge of the sources of money for Wallpaper-Gate (or should that be Downing-Street-Gate?)!!!

    b. As usual, the official investigation appears to be as biased as you would expect from the current corrupt government, appearing to be yet another whitewash in the whore-house.

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