Downing Street staff were invited to a ‘socially distanced drinks’ party in the Number 10 garden during the height of the nationwide lockdown, ITV News claims
It has obtained an email which it claims proves more than 100 No 10 staff were invited to a ‘bring your own booze’ drinks party in the first lockdown.
The email, apparently sent by the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, suggested they should “make the most of the lovely weather” – even though the rest of the country was banned from meeting more than one person outdoors at that time.
Read more:Boris Johnson accused of attending mid-lockdown drinks party in No 10 garden
The email, marked as ‘official sensitive, No10 only’, says: “Hi all,
“After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
ITV News reports that around 40 staff gathered in the garden that evening, eating picnic food and drinking. Crucially, claims ITV, guests included the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Johnson.
The May 20 party was first alluded to in a blog by the Prime Minister’s former advisor Dominic Cummings on Friday.
The email follows allegations about a separate staff gathering in the garden on May 15, with photo of the PM and his wife socialising with wine and cheese – Number 10 has previously insisted it was a work meeting.
Guidance at the time was for households not to mix, unless it was only two people outdoors and socially distanced by at least two metres.
But the photo shows groups of Downing Street staffers gathered together, as well as the PM at a table with his wife and others.
Only an hour before the drinks party commenced, the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had reminded the rest of England at the daily press conference that they must only meet in pairs outdoors.
On May 20, 2020 he said: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart”.
Guidance allowing the ‘rule of six’ outdoors wasn’t brought in until June, 2020, and large gatherings remained banned.
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Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, said: “Boris Johnson has consistently shown that he has no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us.
“He is trying to get officials to take the fall for his own mistakes, but he sets the tone for the way Downing Street and the rest of government operates.
“At the time this party took place, key workers on the frontline were working round the clock to keep us all safe, people suffered loneliness and loss in unimaginably tough circumstances and for the majority of the country our freedom was limited to a daily walk.
“Labour has welcomed Sue Gray’s inquiry, but we need confirmation that this latest revelation, and any other parties not yet revealed by press investigations, will be covered by her probe.”
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