Lockdown party allegations facing UK PM Johnson

LONDON, Jan. 14 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologized for attending a ‘bring your own alcohol’ rally at his official residence during Britain’s first coronavirus lockdown, and an internal investigation is underway into establish the facts.

British media reported that at least 11 rallies were held at Johnson’s residence at 10 Downing Street or other government departments between May 2020 and April 2021, when COVID-19 rules limited the number of people who could attend. meet socially.

Sue Gray, senior official, is investigating. She has not said when her findings will be released.

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Below is a timeline of the party reports and what Johnson said about them:

November 30 – First report of the containment Christmas party

The Mirror newspaper reports that Christmas parties were held at government offices, including Johnson’s in Downing Street, in December 2020, when such gatherings were banned.

Subsequent media reports include a photo of Johnson holding an online Christmas quiz for his staff, sitting next to an official draped in garlands.

December 1 – Johnson denial

Asked by the leader of the opposition Labor Party about reports of a Christmas party in December 2020 in Downing Street, Johnson told Parliament: “All guidelines have been fully followed in Issue 10.”

December 7 – Video of staff joking about the party

ITV News is releasing a video leak showing Johnson’s staff laughing and joking during a mock press conference on how to explain a rally in Downing Street.

In the video, Allegra Stratton, then Johnson’s press secretary, says: “This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”

December 8 – Johnson apologizes, his assistant resigns

Johnson told Parliament: “I was also furious to see this clip. I wholeheartedly apologize for the offense it has caused across the country, and I apologize for the impression it gives. .

“I have been assured several times since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no COVID rule had been broken … if these rules were broken, there will be disciplinary action for everyone involved. “

Stratton resigns.

December 9 – Investigation details released

The government said Britain’s top civil servant Simon Case would investigate three alleged rallies.

“The main objective will be to quickly establish a general understanding of the nature of gatherings …”, he says.

The investigation is expanded to cover other gatherings after additional media reports.

December 17 – Principal investigator resigns

Case withdraws after it was reported that an event had taken place in his own office. The government says the investigation will be concluded by Gray.

December 19 – Publication of a photo of Garden Party

The Guardian newspaper publishes a photo of Johnson and more than a dozen others drinking wine in the Downing Street Garden which it says was taken during the May 15, 2020 lockdown.

December 20 – Johnson says the garden party was a job

“These were people at work talking about work,” Johnson told broadcasters when asked about the Guardian photo.

January 10 – Invitation to Johnson’s Assistant party released

ITV publishes an email sent by Johnson’s senior private secretary, Martin Reynolds, to more than 100 Downing Street employees on May 20, 2020.

He was saying, “After what has been an incredibly busy time, it would be nice to make the most of the good weather and have a socially distanced drink in Garden No.10 tonight… Please join us from 6pm and bring your own. own alcohol! “

ITV said around 40 staff gathered in the garden, including Johnson and his partner Carrie, though at the time social mix between households was limited to two people outside.

January 12 – PM says he attended lockdown rally

Johnson tells Parliament he attended a meeting on May 20, 2020 in the Downing Street Garden and apologizes.

“When I entered this garden (…) to thank groups of employees before returning to my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I implicitly believed that this was an event working, ”he said. His publicist says he hasn’t seen Reynolds’ email.

The Times newspaper quotes Tory lawmakers as saying Johnson later told them he didn’t personally believe he had done anything wrong and said “we’re taking hits for something we don’t deserve.”

January 13 – Police say they will not investigate the rallies yet

British police have said they will not investigate rallies held at Johnson’s residence unless Gray’s investigation finds evidence of potential criminal offenses.

January 14 – Reports from other parties in April 2021

The Telegraph reports that there were two cocktails held in Downing Street on April 16, 2021, as Queen Elizabeth mourned her husband, Prince Philip, and at a time when mixing indoors was prohibited for people of different households. Johnson was at his Checkers country residence that day, the newspaper said.

One of those parties was a kickoff event for James Slack, a former communications director, who apologizes and says the rally “shouldn’t have happened when it did.”

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Compiled by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Catherine Evans and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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