Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended a Christmas party last year in breach of Covid rules, according to reports.
The civil service head, who is currently investigating allegations that illegal Christmas parties were held last year at 10 Downing Street and other government buildings, is alleged to have himself attended a drinks gathering with staff in mid-December 2020.
The event was held a day on December 17, according to The Times, a day before the alleged party at 10 Downing Street that is a key part of Case’s investigation.
Socialising indoors was banned at the time, with London under Tier 2 restrictions.
The informal event is said to have taken place at his office and in the waiting room outside. Bottles of wine and Prosecco were poured during the drinks, Politico and the Independent reported.
A Cabinet Office spokesman called the claims “categorically untrue”.
Officials who leaked the information to The Times, Independent and Politico, have questioned Case’s investigation role given his own alleged breaking of the rules, and there are calls for an independent investigator to take over.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition, said: “With each revelation there is more evidence of a culture of turning a blind eye to the rules.
“Labour made it clear the person leading the investigation should be uncompromised, free to make an independent judgement. That’s now in serious doubt.”
Case was tasked with conducting a probe into allegations of an event at No.10 on 18 December last year after footage emerged of the prime minister’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton trying to defend the gathering at a mock press conference.
The investigation has since been expanded to cover a range of departmental events, including a party that the Department for Education acknowledges took place and a virtual quiz hosted by the PM on 15 December last year.
Downing Street staff have been told to expect the results of Case’s review “by the end of this week”, according to The Times.