Downing Street staff were "working very hard for very long hours”

Boris Johnson, News Conference after publication of Sue Gray report

May 24, 2022

Facts

In an apparent attempt to mitigate criminal breaches of Covid guidelines by Downing Street staff, Boris Johnson claimed that they were "working very hard for very long hours.” Mr Johnson was speaking shortly after the revelation that the Downing Street working week ended every Friday at 4pm for so called “wine time Fridays.” 

According to the Daily Mail  “Downing Street scheduled 'wine-time Fridays' into the electronic calendars of 50 No 10 staff every week between 4pm and 7pm, with staff investing in a drinks fridge to keep their beer, prosecco and wine cold. 

One Downing Street insider told The Times: 'It was a culture of 3am sessions. People used to sleep off their hangovers in the buildings overnight on sofas and in the mornings there were empty drinks on the desks that the cleaners had to pick up. There was a culture of boozing.”

Verdict

Johnson’s plea in mitigation that Downing Street staff were "working very hard for very long hours” is contradicted by the fact they knocked off work for drinking sessions at 4pm on Fridays. Many workers on the public sector, including the NHS, worked longer hours while observing Covid guidelines. 

We approached Boris Johnson's office, No10 Press Office and the Cabinet Office to give them a chance to comment, but received no response.

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