Christmas party investigation could include Boris Johnson’s quiz, says minister

Cabinet secretary can investigate ‘any gathering on any day’, says Sajid Javid

Investigation could include PM’s quiz, says health secretary

The investigation into last year’s Downing Street Christmas parties held during strict Covid curbs could be expanded to include Boris Johnson’s hosting of a quiz night, a cabinet minister has confirmed.

The prime minister is facing calls to answer allegations he broke Covid rules by attending a No 10 staff quiz on December 15 while tier 2 rules which banned household mixing were in force in London.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said cabinet secretary Simon Case’s investigation could include Mr Johnson’s quiz event, after he was photographed leading the virtual event alongside two aides.

“Simon Case has been given a broad remit to investigate anything he thinks should be [investigated], any type of gathering at Downing Street that should be looked at, on any particular day he wants to,” the minister told Sky News.

“So if he wants to look at this he will. It’s going to be a decision for him,” Mr Javid added. “He will have seen that photo, I’m sure, himself. But let him do his job.”

The Times reported that the online quiz will be included as part of Mr Case’s investigation into potential rule-breaking. The Cabinet Office has pointed to the terms of reference for the probe – which state that the inquiry can be widened “where there are credible allegations relating to other gatherings”.

The cabinet secretary is reportedly set to announce his findings into the festive parties at both Downing Street and the Department for Education later this week.

Asked if there was a possibility the probe could be pushed beyond Christmas, Mr Javid said: “I’m sure if he can publish the results sooner rather than later I’m sure he will – there’s no reason not to.”

Meanwhile, Labour said Mr Johnson “might have misled” MPs after he told the Commons he had been given assurances that social distance regulations were not broken by No 10 last year.

The party is demanding that Mr Johnson attend parliament on Monday to “fess up” about whether he and staff partied and socialised while Covid restrictions were imposed on the public.

Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC that the latest revelation about Mr Johnson playing the part of impromptu quiz master alongside two aides meant it was “very hard” to see how tier 2 rules could have been adhered to.

Labour MP Neil Coyle said the Metropolitan Police should investigate the Downing Street gatherings and question the prime minister.

“There are people who were fined on the same days last year – why should it be any different for the prime minister,” said the backbencher. “Everyone who was there should be questioned by the cops, including the prime minister.”

It comes as The Sun said Mr Johnson and his-then fiancee Carrie Johnson had been seen flouting lockdown rules during a dinner at a London restaurant in October 2020.

The paper quotes eyewitnesses who said Mr Johnson was seen approaching the tables of other guests while not wearing a face covering, and that the couple did not leave the premises until after the 10pm curfew had passed.

At the time, venues in the capital were subject to strict rules which, as well as the curfew, required diners to wear face coverings when moving around and banned different households mixing.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “It is categorically untrue to suggest the PM did not adhere to curfew rules in place at the time. Any small delay would have been for operational security reasons.”

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