Sources have claimed that Boris Johnson attended a ‘pizza party’ held in Downing Street in May 2020, while the UK was still under tough Covid restrictions.
During a joint investigation by The Guardian and The Independent, sources claimed that the Prime Minister had broken Covid rules by attending the social gathering on 15 May 2020, where pizza and alcoholic drinks were allegedly served to staff.
It comes amid a storm of controversy for the Prime Minister and the Conservatives, with claims that illegal parties had been held in December 2020.
What did Boris Johnson allegedly do?
It has been claimed that Downing Street staff held a ‘pizza party’ on 15 May 2020.
Pizza, wine and spirits were served at the gathering and the Prime Minister allegedly attended for approximately 15 minutes.
It has been alleged that around 20 members of staff were in attendance at the gathering, which took place shortly after a televised press conference held by former Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Sources say that Mr Johnson told a Number 10 aide that staff deserved to relax for “beating back” Covid-1, with the event described as “celebratory” as some relaxation of the rules were announced.
At the time, people in the UK were not able to meet anyone from another household indoor, and were only able to meet two people outdoors at a distance of two meters.
What else has been claimed by sources?
It has been claimed that those in attendance ate pizza and drank alcohol while inside Number 10 and outside in the garden, with some members of staff drinking late into the evening.
Mr Hancock is also alleged to have been in attendance after instructing the UK public earlier that night to stay at home during the daily televised coronavirus update.
In a plea to the UK during that 5pm press conference, he urged the public to “please stick with the rules, keep an eye on your family and don’t take risks”, while directly asking people to “stay at home as much as possible”.
However, sources say that Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock were in attendance for a short time, and that there was no indication that they drank alcohol themselves.
What has been the response to the claims?
A spokesperson for Mr Hancock has described the claims as “not true”, saying: “After the press conference, which finished at approximately 5.53pm, Matt debriefed his own team, then went to the Downing Street garden to debrief the prime minister.
“He left Downing Street at 6.32pm and went back to the Department for Health and Social Care,”
A spokesperson for Mr Johnson said that the Prime Minister had only held a series of meeting with his staff and the Health Secretary, including some hosted in the garden of Number 10, denying he left to go to his residence at around 7pm that evening.
They said: “In the summer months Downing Street staff regularly use the garden for some meetings. On 15 May 2020 the Prime Minister held a series of meetings throughout the afternoon, including briefly with the then health and care secretary and his team in the garden following a press conference.
“The prime minister went to his residence shortly after 7pm. A small number of staff required to be in work remained in the Downing Street garden for part of the afternoon and evening.”
Were illegal Christmas parties held in Downing Street?
The claims come as Mr Johnson and the UK Government battle allegations that Downing Street staff had held illegal Christmas gatherings while London was under strict Covid restrictions.
It was claimed that in one gathering held on 18 December 2020, staff were served food and drink and took part in a ‘secret santa’.
Leaked footage from 22 December 2020 showed Number 10 staff joking about how to respond to potential questions from the media about a Christmas party which took place during a mock press conference.
Further evidence emerged after the Mr Johnson was pictured allegedly hosting a Christmas quiz inside Downing Street on 15 December 2020.
On screen, he sat in a Number 10 room and was flanked by two members of staff dressed festively - the quiz was said to have been delivered digitally to teams within Downing Street, with staff huddled over computer screens to answer questions.
The Prime Minister and Tory MPs have so far denied that any wrongdoing took place during the 2020 festive period.
Amid the public anger, Mr Johnson announced last week that an internal investigation into whether any rules were broken by any gatherings taking place would be launched by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
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