Downing Street Held Garden Party Drinks At Height Of Lockdown, Leaked Email Proves
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A leaked email from Boris Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary offers evidence that Downing Street officials held a party at the height of lockdown.
Martin Reynolds, who has run Johnson’s private office since October 2019, sent the email on May 20, 2020, when government rules banned people from meeting in groups outdoors.
It is said to have been sent to more than 100 Number 10 employees, including the prime minister’s advisors, speechwriters and door staff, and encouraged recipients to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’ by getting together for drinks outside.
The full email, which was shared with ITV News, reads:
After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!
ITV News reports that around 40 staff gathered in the garden after Reynolds sent the email, with attendees including Johnson and his wife, Carrie, eating picnic food and drinking.
The event is thought to have taken place just days after Downing Street officials gathered in the garden to share some cheese and wine on May 15. An image that emerged last month is believed to have been taken at the event, and showed Johnson sitting in the garden with his wife and a number of staff members.
Reynolds’ leaked email is the first evidence of the May 20 gathering, which was first alluded to in a blog by Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former advisor. The message makes clear that staff were gathering socially rather than for a work meeting, which Downing Street has claimed was the case with the leaked photograph.
Less than an hour before the drinks were due to take place, then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden spoke at a daily government press conference in which he reminded members of the public that no more than two people could meet outside.
He commented: ‘You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart.’
The cabinet office launched an inquiry into the allegations after they first came to light, and it is understood the May 20 party will form part of the ongoing investigations.
When asked if he attended the party on May 20, Johnson said: ‘All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.’
The inquiry is set to report back this month.
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Topics: News, Boris Johnson, Coronavirus, Downing Street, Now, Pandemic