Civil servants ‘hosted Downing Street party’ during Covid lockdown

Majority of people attending Christmas party at No.10 last year were officials, according to report
Boris Johnson leaving No.10. Photo: Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street

By Tevye Markson

07 Dec 2021

Civil servants organised an alleged Christmas party at Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown last year, according to reports.

About 30 people are understood to have attended the event on 18 December, which is believed to have been organised via WhatsApp by civil service staff, who asked attendees to bring “secret Santa” presents.

A report in The Times states that “the majority of people attending the party were civil servants”, plus a few special advisers and some others. Some staff working in other parts of the building are said to have later joined in an "impromptu" way.

Staff brought the food and alcohol provided at the party, which was not paid for by the government, the report adds. 

The alleged event took place two days after London went into Tier 3 lockdown restrictions, which banned people from mixing indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble.

At this time, people were allowed to gather for work purposes but not for a work Christmas lunch or party and not for a primarily social activity.

Boris Johnson and his Downing Street staff were first accused of breaking Covid rules in the lead up to Christmas last year in an exclusive report published in the Mirror on 30 November.

The report said the prime minister “gave a speech at a packed leaving do for a top aide last November” when the country was in its second lockdown, and that another party was held by members of his team on 18 December.

Officials “knocked back glasses of wine during a Christmas quiz and a secret Santa”, the report alleges, “while the rest of the country was forced to stay at home”.

The government has denied the allegations, saying Covid rules have been followed at all times at Downing Street and that no party took place.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson told reporters: “There was not a party and Covid rules have been followed at all times.”

Groups representing families who died of Covid-19 have expressed their anger at the reports, while MPs and others have called on the police to investigate the alleged events.

The Metropolitan Police said it does not normally investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations but would "consider the correspondence received".

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