The Metropolitan Police have said they are considering complaints from Labour MPs that Boris Johnson and his No 10 staff held Christmas parties in breach of Covid regulations.
Labour backbenchers Neil Coyle and Barry Gardiner have each written to Scotland Yard asking police to investigate reports that two parties were held in the run-up to last Christmas at a time when such gatherings were banned.
The Prime Minister and his staff at No10 are accused of breaking Covid laws by hosting festive jamborees – the first on November 27 and the second on December 18.
At each of the two parties there were 40 or 50 people crammed ‘cheek by jowl’ into a medium sized room, according to the Daily Mirror.
At the time Britain was in the grip of a second lockdown, and London later in Tier 3 restrictions, with all indoor social gatherings banned unless they involved a single household bubble.
Mr Johnson has not denied the events took place but said no rules were broken – although he has repeatedly refused to explain how that could be the case.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that while it did not routinely investigate ‘retrospective’ breaches of the Covid regulations, it was considering the correspondence it had received.
It comes as the force’s commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, told listeners on LBC that the Met had received no complaints over last year’s Downing Street Christmas party – but will look into it if one is made.
Scotland Yard will consider complaints from Labour MPs that Boris Johnson (pictured) and his No 10 staff held Christmas parties in breach of Covid regulations
Labour backbenchers Neil Coyle (left) and Barry Gardiner have each written to Scotland Yard asking police to investigate reports that two parties were held in the run-up to last Christmas at a time when such gatherings were banned
The Prime Minister and his staff at No10 are accused of breaking Covid rules by hosting festive jamborees in breach of Covid laws – the first on November 27 and the second on December 18. A party was reportedly held for ex-aide Cleo Watson (pictured above)
The Prime Minister and his Downing Street staff are accused of breaking Covid rules by hosting three festive gatherings in 2020.
On November 27, Mr Johnson is said to have given a speech at a packed leaving do for a senior aide, who the Guardian identified as Cleo Watson, nicknamed ‘The Gazelle’.
The 32-year-old was one of Cummings’ protégés, but has now left No10 to write an erotic political thriller about salacious goings-on in Westminster.
At the time Britain was in the grip of the second lockdown, with all indoor social gatherings banned unless they involved a single household bubble.
Then, on December 18, Downing Street staffers apparently held their own festive party featuring a Christmas quiz and Secret Santa. At that point, London was subject to Tier 3 restrictions, with indoor gatherings outlawed and the rule of six outside.
A source also claimed there was a third, smaller gathering on November 13 – the night the Prime Minister’s top advisor Dominic Cummings publicly walked out.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that while it did not routinely investigate ‘retrospective’ breaches of the Covid regulations, it was considering the correspondence it had received. [File picture]
When did the ‘parties’ take place and what were the Covid rules at the time?
November 27 – Mr Johnson reportedly gives a speech at a packed leaving do for a ‘senior aide’. ’40 or 50 people’ were present. The aide was named as one newspaper as Cleo Watson, Dominic Cummings’ protégé.
RULES: All indoor gatherings banned unless they involved a single household bubble.
December 18 – Downing Street staffers allegedly hold their own festive party, with the PM not in attendance. Group size is also given as 40 to 50.
RULES: Tier 3 restrictions banning indoor social gatherings. The rules specifically stated ‘you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity’.
November 13 – Reports of a third, smaller gathering. This would have also coincided with the second lockdown.
In his letter to the police, Labour MP Mr Coyle said: ‘The sense of outrage from constituents is palpable that they followed the rules while those responsible for devising and enforcing them were breaching them at the top of government.
‘The Prime Minister has been questioned on this and has replied that “no Covid rules were broken” but from reading the guidance I believe even holding these events was a breach of the rules at the time.’
In his letter, Mr Gardiner expressed surprise that when Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was interviewed on LBC on Friday, she said the force was not investigating the matter as she had not received correspondence on it.
‘If these events did take place, it implies that there is one rule for the Government and another for everyone else,’ he said.
‘I believe your officers should investigate the matter further to establish the facts and to see if any laws might have been broken.’
Earlier, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not deny the gathering had taken place but he said: ‘At all stages the rules have been followed.’
The PM’s press secretary added: ‘We don’t recognise this account, as we’ve said Covid rules have been followed at all times.’
Asked which parts of the report were being denied, she said: ‘I’m not going to get into individual aspects of speculation.’
Separately, a spokesman described as ‘total nonsense’ claims Mr and Mrs Johnson had held parties in their private flat.
Despite widespread outcry – as millions of families were kept apart amid rising case numbers last year – the Met chief told a phone-in on LBC radio that her force is not investigating the incident.
Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick says the force have received no complaints over last year’s Downing Street Christmas party – but will look into it if one is made
A party held at Number 10 on November 27 was for Dominic Cummings’ aide Cleo Watson (right), according to reports
Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of ‘taking the British public for fools’ after the Prime Minister did not deny holding parties in Number 10 in the run up to last Christmas
Responding to a caller, Dame Cressida said: ‘You asked if we are investigating – the answer to that is no. And, as far as I’m aware, we have had no complaints and therefore I really can’t comment on what did or didn’t happen there.’
Asked what would happen if she received a letter, she said: ‘If I get a letter, I’ll read a letter.’
Pressed further, she said: ‘This is the Met. We are professional. We are impartial. We act without fear or favour. We follow evidence. That’s what we do.’
Separately, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has written to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to ask whether he had considered referring the matter to the Met.
In a statement, the force said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting and has received correspondence relating to alleged breaches of the health protection regulations at a Government building on two dates in November and December 2020.
‘It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations; we will however consider the correspondence received.’