The Metropolitan Police, which has said it is aware of the allegations, reminded Londoners on the same day: “You can relax, have a picnic, exercise or play sport, as long as you are on your own, with other people you live with, [or with] just you and one other person”.
Johnson refused to deny attending the party on Monday, telling reporters: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”
Top civil servant Gray is investigating other reports of Christmas and summer parties at Number 10 during successive lockdowns, when such gatherings were illegal. Johnson’s words will be little comfort to people who were unable to see family and friends while restrictions were in place.
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Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan and shadow secretary for levelling up, tweeted: “My inbox is full of heartbreaking emails from people who were achingly lonely, desperate to see their grandkids or parents and couldn’t say goodbye to loved ones. Nothing but anger and contempt this morning for a PM who made the rules, broke them and then told us he didn’t.”
Louise from Warwickshire told Good Morning Britain she buried her son six days before the Downing Street party on May 20, but had a restricted service with family members who couldn’t attend.
“Fred is buried in the churchyard in our village… we had a graveside 10 minute service with 10 of us,” she said. “That included Fred’s granddad, his aunts and uncles and some of his cousins but not all of them. And none of his friends. And none of our friends either.
She continued: “What becomes so clear of the tone of that email and the tone of how they are talking about it is they have no idea how frightened everybody was and how terrified people were about putting their loved ones in danger. And we were certainly not the only family that felt that.
“In the months that followed… we were really frightened that we couldn’t sustain any more loss, we couldn’t cope with any more illness, hospitals, and it’s so clear that the government didn’t feel that.”
A photo emerged in December of staff drinking wine and beer in the Number 10 garden five days earlier, on May 15. Downing Street brushed the images aside as a “work meeting”, despite almost 20 people in attendance, including Johnsons wife and child.
The build-up to Christmas 2021 was dominated by stories of festive parties at Number 10 the previous year, when hundreds more people were dying each day and
At the time, senior Downing street staff were filmed laughing and joking about a party with “cheese and wine” and Johnson was filmed hosting a quiz for staff for video call.