BORIS Johnson and his ministers are continuing to face questions about claims a Christmas party was held at Downing Street last year.
The UK Government’s policing minister Kit Malthouse admitted he knows “nothing about” the event which is said to have taken place on December 18 2020, at No.10.
Malthouse said he would take Downing Street’s insistence that all regulations were complied with during the reported bash at “face value”, as the Prime Minister’s spokesperson insisted “there was not a party”.
No.10 was resisting growing pressure to explain what happened in Downing Street last year, as the Metropolitan Police considered complaints submitted by two Labour MPs.
This evening, Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings said on Twitter it would be “v unwise for No10 to lie about this” and alleged that some political journalists were at parties in the Downing Street flat and were trying to “bury” the story.
V unwise for No10 to lie about this but PM set the course of lying on covid in spring when he decided to start rewriting history, deny herd immunity plan etc. NB some lobby hacks were also at parties in No10 flat so trying to bury this story… https://t.co/pYMRiOgULV
— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) December 6, 2021
In the Commons, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said people in his Ilford constituency were being prosecuted for holding an indoor gathering on the same day as the alleged event.
He said: “Isn’t it time that the Government comes clean about the event in Downing Street on that same day, admit they broke the rules and apologise – or does the Secretary of State believe, as the Prime Minister appears to, that it’s one rule for them and another rule for everyone else?”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid replied: “In terms of rules, of course they should apply to everyone, regardless of who they are.”
At the time of the allegations, the Tier 3 rules in place in London explicitly banned work Christmas lunches and parties where it is “a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted”.
Malthouse told Sky News: “I know nothing about it – I’ve been assured by No 10 that no rules were broken if there was a gathering of any kind.
“No 10 are reassuring everybody that all rules were complied with during that period and I take that reassurance at face value, but no doubt if the police are alerted they will have a look and they will form a view and we’ll learn more about it in the days to come.
“The police should be investigating anything that is a historic crime to them.”
The Home Office minister conceded he is “not an investigator” when questioned on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme how the Christmas party could have been within the rules.
“I asked the question was all the regulations complied with, I was reassured they were, I have to take that at face value, that’s absolutely what I’m sure is the case, it’s for others if they want to decide to take it further,” he added.
“They reassured me that all the regulations were followed and, of course, I believe them.”
He declined to say whether it would have been within the rules for BBC staff to have held a party with drinks, nibbles and party games.
But he added: “You’re asking me a hypothetical question, I don’t know what the circumstances might have been, how far people would’ve been apart, what size of space it was, there are all sorts of variations.”
His remark appeared to contradict another from Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who a day earlier conceded a “formal party” would have been “clearly contrary to the guidance”.
also raised eyebrows by telling The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC on Sunday that police have been clear “they don’t normally look back and investigate things that have taken place a year ago”.
But Downing Street said the Cabinet minister was referring to Scotland Yard’s statement saying officers do not routinely investigate “retrospective” breaches of the Covid regulations specifically.
However, court records showed police were prosecuting a 36-year-old man for holding a gathering of two or more people in Ilford, east London, on the same day as the alleged event in Downing Street.
The court list showed he is one of two people facing hearings before magistrates in Westminster on Wednesday charged with breaching Tier 3 restrictions in December, while many more were being prosecuted for allegedly falling foul of Tier 4 rules introduced on December 20.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson declined to say whether an internal investigation had been carried out, but told reporters: “There was not a party, and Covid rules have been followed at all times.”