British actor Rory Kinnear has spoken of his feelings about attending his sister’s funeral while a “bring your own booze” party took place less than two miles away at No 10.
The gathering held at Downing Street during the height of lockdown on 20 May 2020 is said to have been attended by around 40 people, including the prime minister Boris Johnson and his now wife, Carrie.
Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds reportedly encouraged up to 100 members of staff to “bring your own booze”, according to an email revealed by an ITV investigation this week.
On the same day Kinnear, who currently stars in new play Force Majeure, attended his sister Karina’s funeral following her death from Covid-19, aged 48.
Karina suffered a lack of oxygen at birth, causing severe brain damage. She was left paralysed from the waist down after a life-saving operation on her spine, and was in hospital with chest infections regularly throughout her life.
Writing inThe Guardian, the James Bond actor described the day on which his family buried his sister in a ceremony limited by Covid-19 restrictions.
“Just under two miles separates my corner of London from the garden of Downing Street,” he said.
“I am, today, haunted by the tinkling of those glasses there on that sun-drenched night, the echoing of their thin laughter, the stifled chuckles as they practised their imagined denials and, most perniciously, the leadership that encouraged it to happen.
“Their actions feel like direct assaults in the face of my family’s, and all of our shared national, tragedy.”
Kinnear continued: “To me, and I’m sure many others, the revelations of the manifest and repeated failures of those in power to understand, empathise or show solidarity with what the people of this country experienced during that time have released from the body politic a stench so toxic that I can’t see how they will be able to put it back in the bottle, no matter how desperately they try.
Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trialSign up
“They can’t point the finger anywhere else this time, can they? After all, they brought the bottle themselves.”
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Johnson acknowledged the public “rage” over the incident, which took place during the first national lockdown, but insisted he thought it could have been technically within the rules.
He told MPs in the Commons that he attended the gathering for around 25 minutes to “thank groups of staff”.
“I believed implicitly that this was a work event,” he said.
However, Johnson added that “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside, I should have found some other way to thank them, and I should have recognised that – even if it could have been said technically to fall within the guidance – there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way”.
Following PMQs, more senior Tories called for Johnson to resign over the scandal.
Among them were senior Tory backbencher William Wragg, and vocal Johnson critic Sir Roger Gale who described the PM as a “dead man walking” politically.
A former minister told The Independent that Tory MPs in double figures had submitted letters of no confidence in the prime minister.
Follow the latest political news here.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in