London, Jan 10 (EFE).- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie on May 20, 2020, attended a social gathering in the No. 10 Downing Street garden where alcoholic beverages were served even as a cabinet minister told the public that, due to pandemic protocols, they could meet with only one person at a time outdoors outside their homes and had to stay six feet apart, British media reported Monday.
More than 100 staffers from the prime minister’s office were invited to the event where each attendee had to “bring your own booze,” as specified in an e-mail sent out to them by Johnson’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds.
ITV television on Monday confirmed the report made public on Sunday by The Sunday Times that Johnson and his wife participated in the gathering.
Even if all the partygoers were maintaining six feet of social distancing, the number of them at the event would have been a clear flouting of pandemic rules in effect at that time.
So far, the premier’s office has not denied that Johnson was present at the party.
In the message he sent out to staffers at Downing Street, Reynolds said: “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 No. 10 garden this evening.”
That e-mail, a copy of which was exclusively obtained by the TV station, said “Please join us from 6 pm and bring your own booze.”
About 40 people participated in the social event, where they consumed picnic hors d’oeuvres and alcoholic beverages, according to ITV News.
At that time, the coronavirus lockdown rules in the UK only allowed a person to meet with one other person outside their homes and they had to maintain social distancing of 6 feet.
The party’s existence was suggested last Friday by Johnson’s former chief aide, Dominic Cummings, who wrote on a Substack blog about a May 2020 social event at Downing Street “that should not have happened.”
On Dec. 20, 2021, The Guardian daily published a photo of the prime minister and his wife chatting amiably with staffers at a May 15, 2020, gathering holding glasses of wine in the Downing Street gardens, but the PM’s office claimed that it was a “work-related” get-together.
Six weeks ago, when news of a 2020 Downing Street Christmas party became public, Johnson said he had not attended that social event and had been informed by aides that no such party had taken place.
The internal investigation into the matter being headed by Sue Gray, a senior British civil servant, is examining the new evidence pointing to the social gathering to which Johnson’s private secretary had been invited.
The No. 2 official in the opposition Labour Party, Angela Rayner, emphasized Monday in remarks to ITV that it is vital that Gray have access to all the necessary information to conduct her investigation, even if that means interviewing Johnson himself.
“Boris Johnson has consistently shown that he has no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us,” Rayner said, adding that “He is trying to get officials to take the fall for his own mistakes, but he sets the tone for the way Downing Street and the rest of government operates.”
“It is terrible,” she said, “and I think many people that see the evidence now will not only think that Boris Johnson’s lies are catching up with him, but will see it as absolutely despicable that when they were actually told to follow the rules, Boris Johnson and No. 10 were breaking the rules.”