Partygate pictures: photos leaked ahead of Sue Gray report show Boris Johnson raising glass at illegal party
The images show the Prime Minister with a drink in his hand at an illegal gathering, for which he was not fined by The Met Police
The pictures, which were obtained by ITV News, show the Prime Minister at the party with a drink in his hand and raising a glass, while a table beside him is littered with alcohol bottles.
At the time of the party in question, British citizens were banned from meeting with others outside of their own household, with England being put back into strict lockdown restrictions only eight day prior to the event taking place.
The pictures will be the latest Partygate-related headache for Mr Johnson, after he insisted to parliament that he did not mislead MPs over his knowledge of rule-breaking at the gatherings.
On December 8, Labour MP Catherine West asked the Prime Minister in the House of Commons whether there had been a party in Downing Street on November 13 2020 - the date these new leaked pictures were apparently taken on.
The Prime Minister replied: “No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”
The Commons Privileges Committee is due to investigate whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament with his denials of rule-breaking.
Intentionally misleading the House would normally be a resigning matter.
What happened at the gathering?
The gathering in question took place on 13 November 2020 and was a leaving party for then-director of communications, Lee Cain.
The pictures show a group of seven people, alongside the Prime Minister, raising a glass. With the photographer and the Prime Minister in the room, the total number of people at the gathering comes to nine.
Around six bottles of what is believed to be wine can be seen on the table beside Mr Johnson, who was not fined for the leaving do.
The Met Police did issue at least one fixed-penalty notice to an individual for a gathering on 13 November 2020, however officers have declined to confirm which gathering this was for.
Following the conclusion of the Met Police investigation, it was confirmed that the Prime Minister had only received one fine for a gathering on his birthday in June 2020.
When asked directly about the leaving event in the House of Commons on 8 December 2021, Mr Johnson told MPs he was not aware of any event taking place, adding that if it did “the rules were followed at all times”.
He has repeatedly insisted that he had not knowingly broken parliamentary rules after he was accused of misleading the house over his knowledge of the Partygate rule-breaking.
The Prime Minister has already been referred to the Committee of Privileges over claims he had misled MPs and the House of Commons on his knowledge of Partygate rule-breaking.
What has Number 10 said about the pictures?
In response to the publication of the pictures, Downing Street has said that the Met Police had “access to all information” before the investigation into the illegal gatherings was wrapped up by officers.
The investigation led to 126 fixed-penalty notices being issued to staff, with Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak receiving one each, alongside the Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson.
It is believed that Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who has been leading an internal investigation into the gatherings, has also been handed the images.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.
“The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”
What has been the reaction to the pictures?
The leaked images have drawn strong criticism from political opponents, who have commented on Mr Johnson’s instance that he was not aware of any rule-breaking at any gatherings.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “While the British public were making huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law.
“Boris Johnson said repeatedly that he knew nothing about law-breaking – there’s no doubt now, he lied. Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them.
“The Prime Minister has demeaned his office. The British people deserve better. While Labour has a plan for tackling the cost-of-living crisis, Tory MPs are too busy defending the indefensible actions of Boris Johnson.”
Her comments were echoed by depuaty leader of Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper, who said the Prime Minister had “taken the British people for fools”, adding: “It’s becoming clearer than ever that Boris Johnson lied to the British people and to Parliament.
Ms Cooper and the Lib Dems have also urged the Independent Office for Police Conduct to investigate why Mr Johnson was not fined for the party on 13 November after police were said to have seen the photographs during their inquiries.
She said: “The Metropolitan Police has so far failed to offer any statement of clarification regarding their decision-making process. They have not set out the evidential thresholds which they used to determine whether FPNs should be issued.
“The result of this lack of transparency is that the release of photographs such as that of the Prime Minister drinking in Downing Street, on an occasion for which he was not fined, will likely create considerable public confusion.
“In particular, it is hard to understand why some individuals, in particular more junior members of staff, who attended the same gatherings as the Prime Minister received questionnaires and FPNs, while the Prime Minister did not.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who had previously called for Mr Johnson to resign before u-turning in his call, has encouraged the Prime Minister to “outline why he believes this behaviour was acceptable”. He has not, however, called on him to resign.
He said: “These images will rightly make people across the country very angry.
“The Prime Minister must outline why he believes this behaviour was acceptable. To most, these pictures seem unjustifiable and wrong.”