Bereaved families ‘sickened’ by No 10 lockdown parties

Ex-head of government legal service says he cancelled his leaving party as it would have been against the rules

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Thursday 02 December 2021 17:31
<p>Boris Johnson in front of the Downing Street Christmas tree in 2020 </p>

Boris Johnson in front of the Downing Street Christmas tree in 2020

Families who lost loved ones during the pandemic say they are “sickened” by reports that Downing Street staff breached lockdown regulations by holding Christmas parties in No 10.

It comes as the ex-head of the government’s legal service hinted the law may have been broken when Downing Street staff drank together late into the night, in defiance of Covid lockdown rules.

Jonathan Jones, who was the government's top lawyer until November last year, said he had cancelled his own leaving party around the same time to stay within the law.

“About a year ago I was due to have a party to mark my departure from the civil service. This did not happen for – well – legal reasons,” he said in a post on social media.

Sir Jonathan departed his role on 9 November – around the same time as the alleged Downing Street parties are said to have taken place.

Events breaching household bubble rules reportedly took place on 18 December and 27 November, to celebrate Christmas and the departure of a special adviser respectively.

In addition to these events, The Guardian newspaper also reported a source claiming there were “loads of leaving parties” during both the second and third lockdowns.

The December event went ahead two days after the government moved London into Tier 3 restrictions, banning all indoor mixing apart from household bubbles.

Attendees are said to have played party games, drank and eaten until after midnight.

Covid Bereaved families spokesperson Safiah Ngah told the BBC: “My dad died in February from Covid-19, despite being in good health. The last Christmas period is sadly one I will never forget.

“One in 20 people in my borough had Covid-19 and my family were desperately trying to do what we could to keep each other safe. Unfortunately it wasn't enough.

“To think that just a few miles away, No 10 was throwing a Christmas party, with no care for the rules they had set, is sickening.”

A No 10 spokesperson refused to deny parties had taken place and said only that rules had been followed.

“Covid rules have been followed at all times,” they said.

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