Particulars emerge of recent Downing Avenue lockdown occasion | Conservatives

Particulars have emerged of what seems to be one other alcohol-fuelled social occasion inside Downing Avenue throughout lockdown, one which was seemingly not investigated by police or the official civil service investigation.

In response to the Mirror, between 30 and 40 employees drank alcohol and ate takeaway snacks to mark the ultimate press briefing carried out by Boris Johnson’s then-spokesman James Slack, on 17 November 2020.

{A photograph} obtained by the paper seems to point out an official setting out bottles of wine and Champagne-type drinks. The image was reportedly despatched to No 10 employees on a WhatsApp group, in response to a message saying: “Time to open the Covid safe bar.”

The photograph was then posted as a reply with the message: “The bar is open.” Different messages reported by the Mirror seemingly display premeditation in socialising, with one referring to “Wine Time Tuesday”, and others discussing going to purchase “reinforcement booze”. One official says: “If somebody will help me carry it I’m completely happy to go.”

The alleged occasion was 4 days after the leaving drinks for Lee Cain, Johnson’s head of communications. On Monday, ITV Information obtained photographs exhibiting the prime minister on the occasion, elevating a glass and seeming to toast Cain and make a speech.

These photographs have positioned strain on the Metropolitan police to clarify why Johnson was not fined for attending the 13 November gathering, when others there have been.

The 17 November occasion was not amongst gatherings investigated by the Met, and was not listed amongst these examined within the interim report into lockdown-breaching events by the senior Cupboard Workplace civil servant Sue Grey. Her full report is anticipated to emerge on Wednesday.

Slack, who was a civil servant reasonably than a political appointee like Cain, was chosen to exchange Cain as head of communications. The 17 November drinks had been held to mark the final time that, as Johnson’s official spokesman, he had spoken to the media on the day by day foyer briefings, in keeping with experiences.

At the moment, due to the lockdown, the briefings had been being held nearly reasonably than in particular person. Slack left No 10 in April 2021. That leaving celebration, held the day earlier than Prince Philip’s funeral whereas indoor social mixing was nonetheless barred, was reported and investigated. He’s now deputy editor of the Solar.

Proof of what seems to be yet one more social occasion, and one deliberate upfront, places additional strain on Johnson forward of Grey’s findings, amid experiences extra Conservative MPs may very well be submitting letters of no confidence within the prime minister.

If Grey’s full report is launched on Wednesday, it might almost definitely be submitted to Downing Avenue within the morning, revealed shortly afterwards, and with Johnson promising to present a press release to parliament and reply questions from MPs afterwards. No 10 have mentioned Johnson would then goal to carry a press convention.

A No 10 spokesperson mentioned: “As a part of their investigation the Cupboard Workplace workforce had been in a position to converse to No 10 employees to determine the information on what occurred throughout this era. Each they and the Met Police have had entry to all info related to their investigations, together with images.

“The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Grey will publish her report shortly, at which level the prime minister will tackle parliament in full.”

Slack was contacted for remark.

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