By Claire Gordon • 10 December 2021 • 10:24
Boris Johnson’s press chief attended a No10 party that is currently under investigation for breaking Coronavirus rules last Christmas. Jack Doyle, then deputy director of communications, gave a speech and handed out gifts to 20-30 people at the gathering on 18 December 2020.
A source has spoken to the BBC and said there were food, drinks and games at the event that was held at Downing Street. Officials from their staff said: “There is an ongoing review, and we won’t be commenting further while that is the case.”
Three government gatherings are currently under investigation by the UK’s top civil servant, Simon Case. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, said the inquiry has now been “exposed as a sham” by the news of Mr Doyle’s attendance. Mr Doyle was also attending Covid meetings in No 10 that night, which went on until late in the evening, the BBC has been told.
There were also Covid meetings taking place at Downing Street that evening that Mr Doyle attended. The date of the No10 party inquisition was two days after London went into Tier 3 lockdown restrictions, meaning people were told not to mix indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble.
Downing Street has refused to explain how the No10 party complied with Covid restrictions in force at the time, despite a deepening row and days of questioning by reporters. The row has already caused a senior government advisor to quit their post. Allegra Stratton was filmed joking about a Christmas Party at Downing Street last December, claiming there was “no social distancing” at the alleged event.
After it emerged Mr Doyle spoke at the 18 December event, Ms Rayner said: “The government’s internal investigation has been exposed as the sham it is.
“The investigation has only just published its terms of reference, and we are already seeing more details from the media than the Cabinet Office about the parties.”
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