Politics

The 5 times Tory ministers have denied rule-breaking Downing Street Christmas parties



Ministers are under increasing pressure over claims boozy Christmas parties were held at Downing Street last year – and some of the responses have really stretched credulity.

Sources told the Mirror Boris Johnson gave a speech at a packed leaving do in No 10 in November, during the second national lockdown.

This newspaper also reported allegations that revellers at an unofficial No10 Christmas bash on December 18 allegedly enjoyed food, drinks and games which went on well past midnight.

Millions of people were living under strict Covid rules at the time – with London under Tier 3 restrictions.

The following day Mr Johnson announced that Christmas plans had to be drastically scaled back.

As Labour MPs demand the Met Police probe whether rules were broken, ministers have faced an avalanche of questions about the alleged festive get-togethers.

Here are just some of the questionable responses.

1, ‘We followed guidance’







Boris Johnson in the Commons
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UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag)

Labour leader Keir Starmer took a squirming Boris Johnson to task over the claims at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons.

The PM failed three times to deny that a Christmas party had been held at No 10.

When pressed, he stuck rigidly to a carefully-worded reply: “What I can tell [him] is that all guidance was followed completely during No 10.

Mr Starmer commended the “nice try” to avoid the question, asking: “Does the PM really expect the country to believe that while people were banned from seeing their loved ones at Christmas last year, it was fine for him and his friends to throw a boozy party in Downing Street?”

Mr Johnson later tried to change the subject to this year’s rules, adding he had “said what I’ve said about No10 and events of 12 months ago”.

2, ‘I wasn’t there’ and, if it happened, it was 12 months ago







Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab
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Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab faced a barrage of questions about the alleged festive bash when he spoke to broadcasters on Sunday.

The Justice Secretary, like his boss, swerved the central allegation but claimed no rules were broken but also drew ire from Labour when he said it was not cops’ job to probe rule breaches alleged to have taken place a year ago.

He said: “The police have been very clear and will look back on any letter, but they don’t normally look back and investigate things that have taken place a year ago.”

When pushed to explain the reports by BBC presenter Andrew Marr, Mr Raab said: “Let’s just be clear what we’re talking about here, something that took place a year ago, unsubstantiated anonymous claims being made.

“It’s impossible to answer the charge on that basis, only that we are clear the rules were being followed. If there is a breach of the rules, there is a breach of the rules, but I don’t know the full facts because I wasn’t there.”

Asked if, as a lawyer, he agreed it would have been a breach of the rules to have held a gathering, Mr Raab said: “Of course, if there was a formal party held … that is something that is clearly contrary to the guidance.

“If anyone held a party contrary to the rules, of course that is the wrong thing to do.”

3, ‘Rumour and hearsay’ but ‘I wasn’t invited’







Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup
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BBC)

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup was laughed at when she appeared on BBC One’s Question Time last week as she also refused to answer questions about the alleged parties.

One audience member lost their temper, telling the minister: “This time last year, my parents are from south London, so we couldn’t go see them.

“They both had Covid – we followed the guidance, we did what we were told.

“I’m stuck in Weston-super-mare, mum and dad are at home in South Norwood. Then you hear ‘they’re having Christmas parties while we are suffering?’

“It makes me sick. It really does, it makes me really upset.”

Ms Throup replied: “Well I respect that people put up with a lot over the last 20 months. Nobody could have predicted what was going to happen.”

Asked about the party, however, she replied: “The Prime Minister said quite clearly on Wednesday at PMQs that all guidance was followed.”

Host Fiona Bruce hit back: “That wasn’t the question he was asked, which I think is why everyone’s laughing Maggie.

“Was there a Christmas party or wasn’t there?”

The minister replied: “I wasn’t there. Like the deputy leader of the Labour Party, I wasn’t invited to what was happening at No10, if anyone was happening.”

At this point Ms Bruce interjected to ask the audience, saying: “Who wants to know if there was a Christmas party or not? Come on Maggie.”

A flurry of hands went up.

Ms Throup branded the claims ‘rumour and hearsay’, adding: “I am not aware of the Christmas party.

“Number 10 is a workplace and I’ve been reassured that all guidance was carefully followed.”

The audience appeared to give a ‘no’ when asked if Ms Throup had answered the question. She replied: “My answer is not going to change because the guidance was followed.”

4, ‘I was in Basildon kicking down doors with drugs cops’







Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse
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STOKE SENTINEL)

Among the more eyebrow-raising responses to the ‘was there or wasn’t there a Christmas ‘party’ was that of Policing Minister Kit Malthouse.

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari, the Boris Johnson ally said: “I am reassured that no Covid regulations were broken with whatever happened at that time – I was in Basildon kicking in doors with Essex Police on a drugs gang.

“That was my celebration of Christmas.”

“Who has assured you?” Mr Ferrari asked.

“Officials at Number 10 have assured me, as part of my briefing for this media round, that no regulations were broken.”

Mr Malthouse later 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.”

5, ‘It is the Daily Mirror’







Health Secretary Sajid Javid
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BBC)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid was also asked about the claims – and tried to blame the Daily Mirror.

Asked by LBC whether he believed the prime minister and Downing Street staff had broken the rules, he questioned the report, saying: “Well, first of all, it is the Daily Mirror.”

Mr Javid also: “I didn’t attend, I don’t know who attended these parties, but I don’t even think there were parties that I’m aware of.

“But the point is, whether it’s in Number 10 or any government department, all rules would have been followed at all times.

“I don’t think there’s anything there.”

LBC presenter Nick Ferrari hit back: “I’m sure they [the Mirror] have their facts straight, secretary of state.”

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