The Metropolitan Police is reviewing footage in which senior Downing Street officials joked about holding a Christmas party during lockdown, four days after the alleged event took place.
Downing Street has repeatedly insisted there was no party on Friday, December 18 last year, amid a row over whether lockdown rules were breached.
It has been reported that the alleged event involved party games, as well as food and drinks being served until past midnight, at a time when Tier 3 rules explicitly banned work Christmas lunches and parties where it was “a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted”.
In the leaked footage which emerged on Tuesday night, Allegra Stratton, who at the time was the Prime Minister’s press secretary, fields questions about reports of a Downing Street Christmas party.
The footage was reportedly filmed as part of preparations for televised briefings by Ms Stratton, although the briefings did not go ahead.
The video prompted outrage among Conservative MPs and officials, who described it as a “disaster”, while several also called for the resignation of Downing Street figures who were responsible.
The Met said it was aware of and considering footage relating to alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations in government buildings last December.
It is the latest in a series of rows to engulf the Government, which has been rocked in recent weeks by allegations of so-called “Tory sleaze” in the wake of the Owen Paterson case.
Separately, the Department for Education on Tuesday night admitted holding a gathering for staff last December in contravention of social distancing rules after the Daily Mirror reported that Gavin Williamson, then education secretary, gave a speech at the event.
A DfE spokeswoman said: “While this was work-related, looking back we accept it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time.”
‘It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine’
At the rehearsal with Ms Stratton on December 22, Ed Oldfield, a special adviser to the Prime Minister, asked her: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?”
Ms Stratton replied “I went home”, before laughing and subsequently composing herself.
Mr Oldfield then followed up with a supplementary question, asking: “Would the Prime Minister condone having a Christmas party?”
The footage shows Ms Stratton responding by asking “what’s the answer?” to which another person in the room can be heard saying: “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine.”
Ms Stratton then asks: “Is cheese and wine alright?” After laughing again, Ms Stratton goes on to say: “This fictional party was a business meeting … and it was not socially distanced.”
Sir Keir Starmer: ‘Lying and laughing about it is shameful’
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, accused Boris Johnson on Tuesday night of lying about the event.
He said: “People across the country followed the rules even when that meant being separated from their families, locked down and – tragically for many – unable to say goodbye to their loved ones.
“They had a right to expect that the Government was doing the same. To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful.
“The Prime Minister now needs to come clean, and apologise. It cannot be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”
After the footage emerged last night, Charles Walker, the senior Tory MP, said: “The No 10 party means that any future lockdowns will be advisory, whatever the law says.”
Asked during a visit on Tuesday whether a party had taken place, Mr Johnson responded: “What I can tell you is that all the guidelines were observed.”
Police probe leaked video of Downing Street staff joking about lockdown Christmas party appeared first on maserietv.com.