No10 staff were told to leave lockdown Xmas quiz ‘by back door’

“All of you don’t want to be seen leaving having popped down to Tesco to get your drinks”

Laurie Churchman (Extract)

No 10 staff were told to ‘go out the back’ after staying in Downing Street to take part in a Christmas quiz while lockdown restrictions were in place, it has been reported.

While households were banned from mixing socially under Tier 2 restrictions in London, Downing Street staff are said to have quaffed fizz and competed under team names including ‘Hands, Face, First Place’, ‘The 6 Masketeers’, and ‘Professor Quiz Whitty’.

Then at 9.39pm, No 10’s head of HR sent a message to the quiz group chat advising staff to leave ‘out the back’.

The event on December 15 last year – which the Prime Minister helped host – was held virtually, but many participants reportedly joined from the office.

The revelations, made in the The Mirror newspaper, show organisers knew days ahead some staff would be taking part in person, in an apparent breach of lockdown rules.

Official guidance at the time stated: ‘You must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.’

An image published by the Sunday Mirror showed the Prime Minister flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No 10 library.

The newspaper quoted a source who said many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol.

No 10 previously said Downing Street staff were ‘often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response’ during lockdowns – and ‘those who were in the office for work may have attended virtually from their desks’.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘Given there is an ongoing review, it would be inappropriate to comment while that is ongoing.’