“As press secretary set out on a number of occasions when questioned about this originally, there was not a party and Covid rules have been followed at all times.”

Prime Minister’s Spokesperson

December 6, 2021

Facts

In November 2021, reports emerged of a party at Downing Street that allegedly took place in December 2020 - when most of the country was in lockdown. 

The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson denied that any party took place. 

However, an image of Shaun Bailey at an “unauthorised social gathering” emerged later in December. It showed Mr Bailey with 24 people crowded together in a medium sized room in the Tory party’s Westminster headquarters, next to a catered buffet.

A statement from the assembly's Conservative group said: “He does not want an unauthorised social gathering involving some former members of the London mayoral campaign team last December to distract from the committee’s important work holding the mayor of London to account.”

Other parties were also said to have taken place in Downing Street. The Mirror reported that around “40 or 50” people were said to have been crammed “cheek by jowl” into a medium-sized room in Number 10 for a party in December 2020.

“It was a Covid nightmare,” one source claimed.

The BBC’s Laura Keunssberg later reported that there had been “several dozen” people in attendance, with food, drink and even party games on offer, with the event going past midnight. 

Another Downing Street insider told the FT that there were often get togethers in the evenings in No. 10 while the country was in lockdown last Christmas. They said: “It was the only place you could get together and socialise. They happened most Fridays.” 

Another source told the Mirror: “The Prime Minister gave the impression that it could be very relaxed in No. 10. He would either turn a blind eye, or on some occasions attend himself while everyone else was in lockdown.” 

On the 16th December 2020, Boris Johnson said: “This Christmas it’s vital that everyone exercises the greatest possible personal responsibility.” 

This was the same day that London went into tier 3 restrictions, which means that “No person may participate in a gathering” - unless it was reasonably necessary for work (UK Health Protection Regulations). 

The guidance said: “Although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primary social activity.” (Christmas period guidance 2020). 

On the morning of the 18th December, on which the UK recorded 514 Covid-19 deaths, Boris Johnson tweeted: “If you are forming a Christmas bubble, it’s vital that from today, you minimise contact with people from outside your household.” 

It was just hours after that tweet was posted that there was reportedly a Christmas party in Number 10 Downing Street.

Verdict 

The claim from the Downing Street spokesperson that “there was not a party and Covid rules have been followed at all timeswas contradicted by press reports. 

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