Downing Street has failed to deny reports that two parties took place at No 10 the night before Prince Philip’s COVID-restricted funeral – at a time when indoor mixing was banned.
In fresh claims that will further fuel the “partygate” crisis afflicting the prime minister, it is claimed that Downing Street staff drank alcohol into the early hours at two leaving events in April last year.
These are reported to have been held the night before the Queen was forced to sit by herself at her husband’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
At the time, the country was in a period of national mourning, and England was still under strict COVID rules that banned socialising with other households indoors unless you had formed a support bubble.
People in England were also prevented from meeting outdoors in groups larger than six, or from more than two households.
Those coronavirus restrictions also limited Prince Philip’s funeral to just 30 attendees, with only 15 allowed to go to wakes.
The Daily Telegraph reported that one leaving event was held for James Slack, the prime minister’s departing director of communications, while another was for one of Mr Johnson’s personal photographers.
According to the newspaper, the gatherings saw alcohol drunk and guests dancing along to music and lasted beyond midnight.
The events were held in two different parts of Downing Street but later joined together with around 30 people attending both gatherings combined, it is claimed.
Downing Street did not directly deny the reports, although the Daily Telegraph said that the prime minister was not in Number 10 that day.
Commenting on the goodbye party for Mr Slack, a Number 10 spokesperson said: “On this individual’s last day he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey repeated his call for Mr Johnson to resign in the wake of the latest allegations.
“The Queen sitting alone, mourning the loss of her husband, was the defining image of lockdown,” he posted on Twitter.
“Not because she is the Queen, but because she was just another person, mourning alone like too many others. Whilst she mourned, Number 10 partied. Johnson must go.”