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Timeline of government parties that would have taken place during covid-19 restrictions (more…2/2)
December 10, 2020: Ministry of Education Day
The DfE has confirmed a social event has taken place after The Mirror reported that former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and gave a short speech at an event at his department’s headquarters in Whitehall.
A spokesperson admitted that “it would have been better not to gather in this way at this precise moment”.
December 11, 2020: Wine fridge delivered to Downing Street for staff ‘wine hour Fridays’
A refrigerator with a capacity of 34 bottles of wine was delivered through the back door of No 10.
According to sources quoted by The Mirror, the fridge became necessary for the staff’s ‘wine hour Fridays’ which have been held throughout the lockdown, with the Prime Minister allegedly encouraging parties to help assistants to ‘ unwind”.
Regular social gatherings were said to have been particularly popular among staff between fall 2020 and spring 2020, when staff were ‘tired’ from strict Covid restrictions that prohibited socialising.
Mr Johnson is said to have attended a ‘handful’ of these gatherings.
December 14, 2020: Party featuring Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and his staff
Shaun Bailey has apologized ‘unreservedly’ for attending the rally at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) organized by staff from his campaign team.
“This was a serious error of judgment at a time when Londoners were making immense sacrifices to keep us all safe and I regret it wholeheartedly,” he tweeted.
He quit as chairman of the London Assembly‘s Police and Crime Committee after The Mirror published a photo showing him at the rally.
December 15, 2020: Downing Street Quiz
The Prime Minister appeared on the screens of quiz contestants but insisted he had broken no rules.
An image published by the Sunday Mirror showed Mr Johnson flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and the other wearing a Santa hat, in Number 10.
Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson attended the quiz ‘briefly’ after the photographic evidence emerged, but insisted it was a virtual event.
December 16, 2020: Party of the Ministry of Transport
The Mirror reported that senior officials were “drinking and dancing” at the event, which is believed to have been planned by staff in the office of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
A DfT spokesman said: ‘Less than a dozen staff who worked in the office held a low-key, socially distant gathering in the large open-plan office after work on December 16, where food and drink have been consumed.
“We recognize that this was inappropriate and we apologize for the error in judgement.”
December 17, 2020: Cabinet Office “Christmas Party”
A number of media reported that a rally took place at the Cabinet Office on December 17.
The Times reported that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended the party in room 103 of the Cabinet Office, that it was hosted by a private secretary on Mr Case’s team and was on the calendars digital under the name “Christmas Party!”.
The Cabinet Office confirmed a quiz had taken place, but a spokesperson said: ‘The Cabinet Secretary had no role in the event but walked through the team office on his way to his own office.”
December 17, 2020: Leave drinks for the former head of the Covid Taskforce
The former chief executive of the government’s Covid task force said she was ‘really sorry’ during an evening meeting at the Cabinet Office for leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.
Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she had met with colleagues who were in the office that day and added that she was cooperating with the senior civil servant’s investigation Sue Grey.
December 18, 2020: Downing Street Christmas Party
The claim that launched the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was thrown for Downing Street staff on December 18.
Officials and advisers reportedly gave speeches, enjoyed a cheese platter, drank together and exchanged gifts from Secret Santa, although the prime minister was not believed to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after she was filmed joking about it with other aides at a mock press conference.
The Daily Mirror reported that Mr Johnson witnessed a departure for defense adviser Captain Steve Higham before Christmas 2020.
The newspaper alleged that the Prime Minister gave a speech, but Number 10 did not respond to a request for comment and the Ministry of Defense refused.
April 16, 2021: Drinks and dancing the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
The telegraph reported that councilors and officials gathered after work for two separate events on Friday evening.
They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former communications director and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.
Mr Slack, who quit his job as Number 10 to become deputy editor of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his departure, while Downing Street stood apologized to the queen.