A leaked image has revealed that Tory aides threw a Christmas party last year – during the middle of last years coronavirus lockdown.
Looks suspiciously like a gathering to Owl
Jonathon Manning www.devonlive.com
The photograph shows around two dozen people crowded together in the Conservative party’s Westminster headquarters.
The event was organised by Shaun Bailey’s mayoral campaign and took place on December 14, 2020. At the time London was in Tier 2 lockdown, according to The Mirror.
Mr Bailey was approached for comment by The Mirror tonight. He then abruptly quit as the chair of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee.
The image shows 24 people, many wearing paper hats and eating party food at the Conservative campaign headquarters.
Shaun Bailey can be seen in the middle of the crowd of closely packed party-goers.
He is thought to have left the party early in the evening, soon after the picture was taken.
A spokesperson for Shaun Bailey’s campaign said: “On the evening of December 14 2020, at the end of the working day, the campaign hosted a post-work event to thank campaign staff for their efforts over the course of the year.
“This was a serious error of judgement and we fully accept that gathering like this as that time was wrong and apologise unreservedly.”
Also present was billionaire Tory donor Nick Candy, who is shown raising a glass of wine while the photo was taken. Another guest is thought to have been a senior figure within Boris Johnson’s leadership election campaign.
A spokesperson for Mr Candy said: “Nick Candy attended the office of the Shaun Bailey campaign for an end of year review on 14 December 2021. He gave a short thank you speech to the team and spent some time with Shaun Bailey to discuss campaign matters before leaving shortly afterwards.”
Those at the party are understood to have danced and drank wine late into the night, while the revellers also damaged a door at the “raucous” event.
But at the time, London was in the midst of Tier 2 restrictions. It meant that social mixing between households indoors was banned. The capital was later moved into Tier 3.
The Conservative Party has now launched disciplinary action against four of the CCHQ staff seconded to the campaign.
A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “Senior CCHQ staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of [CCHQ] organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of 14th December.
“Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Bailey campaign.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has slammed Shaun Bailey’s campaign for deliberately breaking lockdown rules.
She said: “This is damning new evidence of a party, with a buffet, drinks, Christmas attire and absolutely no social distancing held at Conservative Party HQ.
“Shaun Bailey is an elected official that is clearly breaking Covid regulations in this photo and encouraging the same of his staff.
“Whilst everyone else was making sacrifices to keep their community safe, the chair of the Police and Crime committee in the Greater London Authority was partying.
“His position as chair was untenable and he knew that.”
This is the latest in a series of controversial stories regarding the Conservative Party that has suggested politicians have broken lockdown rules last Christmas.
It has been claimed that a Christmas party was hosted at Number 10 last year, while footage has also emerged of Boris Johnson hosting a Christmas quiz at Number 10 surrounded by colleagues.