Met Police in contact with Cabinet Office over reports of lockdown-breaking Downing Street party

Boris Johnson’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, told No10 employees to ‘bring your own booze’

Joe Middleton
Tuesday 11 January 2022 00:35 GMT
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The Met Police is in contact with the Cabinet Office after explosive revelations about a reported drinks party at Downing Street during the country’s first Covid lockdown.

In a leaked email the prime minister’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 Downing Street employees to “bring your own booze”.

Mr Reynolds said they should “make the most of the lovely weather”, despite England being under tough Covid-19 restrictions in May 2020.

The revelations have piled further pressure on Boris Johnson, with the Met confirming on Monday evening it has contacted the Cabinet Office over “alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson “should be ashamed” and described further claims of rule-breaking at No 10 as “despicable”.

The party on May 20 comes just five days after another gathering that took place in the garden of No10 where Mr Johnson and wife Carrie Johnson were pictured having wine and cheese.

The leaked email was sent by Mr Reynolds who has worked in Mr Johnson’s private office since October 2019, as reported by ITV News.

The full email says: “Hi all,

“After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

According to the broadcaster around 40 people are said to have attended the party, including the prime minister and his partner.

Mr Johnson has not said if he attended the gathering on May 20, 2020, but a source told The Independent he had “hung out” with staff for at least an hour as they knocked back drinks.

Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, is already investigating allegations of other lockdown-breaking gatherings in government.

A Cabinet official has already confirmed she is investigating the May 20 event as part of her inquiry, along with the separate May 15 2020 garden gathering.

On May 20 2020 when Mr Reynolds sent his email the country was slowly making its way out of the first Covid lockdown. All non-essential shops were shut, hospitality remained closed and there was no mixing indoors.

Just days earlier Mr Johnson had slightly relaxed the harsh restrictions and allowed people to meet outside from different households if social distancing was maintained.

The Met Police had tweeted out a warning encouraging the public to adhere to the continued strict Covid rules as the sun began to shine in Spring.

Hannah Brady, a spokeswoman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said it made her “sick” to think No 10 staff “partied” in the days after her father’s death.

“My Dad died just four days before this email was sent out, he was only 55 and was a fit and healthy key worker,” she said in a statement.

“Those days will stay with me for the rest of my life - just like the families of the 353 people that died that day, my family couldn’t even get a hug from our friends.

“To think that whilst it was happening Boris Johnson was making the ‘most of the weather’ and throwing a party for 100 people is truly beyond belief.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.”

No 10 said it would not be commenting on the allegations while Ms Gray’s probe is under way.

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