Downing Street party investigation widened to include two more alleged gatherings

UK cabinet secretary to look at gathering at education department and staff leaving event

An investigation into alleged parties in Downing Street last year during lockdown will look at three gatherings and could become a police matter if evidence of law-breaking is uncovered, a British junior cabinet office minister has announced.

 

The investigation into alleged Covid rule-breaking parties in the British government has been widened to include another festive celebration and a reported staff leaving do.

UK cabinet minister Michael Ellis has told MPs that cabinet secretary Simon Case will, as well as investigating reports of a staff Christmas party at Downing Street on December 18th, 2020, also look into two other alleged events.

He will include in his review a confirmed gathering at the British department for education’s Whitehall headquarters on December 10th last year and a reported leaving event for a No 10 aide on November 27th.

The two December dates coincide with when mixing between households in London was restricted, with England in a month-long lockdown during November.

Both the prime minister and health secretary had suggested Mr Case could choose to extend his investigation – a move he has decided to make – beyond the main allegation that a Christmas party took place in Downing Street only 24 hours before the UK government announced Christmas was cancelled,

The finding means that some claims, including that there was a party in Mr and Mrs Johnson’s No 11 flat on November 13th – the night the prime minister’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings departed – is not currently included in the scope of the review.

Answering an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Ellis said: “The primary purpose of the cabinet secretary’s investigation will be to establish swiftly a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings, including attendance, the setting and the purpose, and with reference to adherence to the guidance in place at the time.

“If required, the investigation will establish whether individual disciplinary action is warranted.” – PA