Former Covid taskforce head ‘sorry’ over celebration in December 2020 | Politics

A former senior civil servant who led the federal government’s Covid taskforce has apologised for having leaving drinks throughout lockdown earlier than Christmas 2020.

Kate Josephs, who’s now chief govt of Sheffield metropolis council, mentioned she was “really sorry” for the occasion on 17 December – in the future earlier than No 10 held its Christmas celebration.

The gathering, first revealed by the Telegraph, noticed “dozens” of officers from the Cupboard Workplace’s Covid-19 taskforce attending the occasion, whereas the nation was in lockdown.

On that very same day, the federal government’s official Twitter feed replied to a question asking if employers might maintain Christmas events on the finish of the working day.

It mentioned: “Hello Mick, though there are exemptions for work functions, you need to not have a piece Christmas lunch or celebration, the place that may be a primarily social exercise and isn’t in any other case permitted by the foundations in your tier.”

Josephs tweeted an announcement apologising for what occurred, saying: “As folks know I beforehand labored within the Cupboard Workplace Covid taskforce the place I used to be director common from July 2020 to 18 December 2020.

“I’ve been cooperating totally with the Cupboard Workplace investigations and I don’t need to pre-empt the findings of the investigation. Nevertheless as chief govt of Sheffield metropolis council I’m chargeable for main the organisation and dealing with companions throughout town and area to assist our Covid response and restoration. That’s the reason I’ve determined to make an announcement.

“On the night of 17 December, I gathered with colleagues that have been at work that day, with drinks, in our workplace within the Cupboard Workplace, to mark my leaving the civil service.

“I’m really sorry that I did this and for the anger that individuals will really feel consequently. Sheffield has suffered tremendously throughout this pandemic, and I apologise unreservedly.

“The precise information of this occasion will probably be thought-about within the context of the Cupboard Workplace investigation. I didn’t attend any occasions at 10 Downing St. I’m grateful for the continued assist of colleagues and companions and wish now to ask that individuals enable the Cupboard Workplace to finish its investigation.”

Terry Fox, chief of Sheffield metropolis council, mentioned: “To be sincere I want to specific my deep disappointment – folks will rightly really feel offended and let down. I get that fully.

“After all the things that Sheffield has been by means of through the pandemic, that is information that we didn’t need to obtain.

“Over the past yr, Kate’s been an asset to our metropolis and he or she is working tirelessly for Sheffield and its folks. Our residents will understandably have questions and considerations, and we await the findings of the investigation.”

It’s the second report of a leaving drinks in Downing Road to have emerged within the final 24 hours. James Slack, the previous director of communications, was revealed to have had a leaving do throughout lockdown on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, main Downing Road to apologise to the Queen.

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