Labour MP Barry Gardiner has written to the Metropolitan Police commissioner urging her to investigate reports that Christmas parties were held in Downing Street last year in breach of Covid restrictions.
In a letter to Dame Cressida Dick today, the MP for Brent North said he was “surprised” to learn this morning that the police were not looking into the matter in light of allegations that large numbers attended more than one gathering.
“Evidence was reported in The Daily Mirror on 1 December 2021. It is alleged that 50 people were in attendance at the event and that this may have been a breach of the then Covid rules,” Gardiner wrote.
“At the time such large gatherings were banned. It has also been alleged that there was a separate large event on 27 November 2020.”
Dick told LBC listeners earlier today that the police are not currently investigating the reports, adding: “As far as I’m aware, we have had no complaints and therefore I really can’t comment on what did or didn’t happen there.”
Asked what would happen if she received a letter about the alleged incidents, the Metropolitan Police Service commissioner said: “If I get a letter, I’ll read a letter.”
According to reports in The Mirror, it has been claimed that between 40 and 50 people attended two events where they were crammed together “cheek by jowl” in what one source described as a “Covid nightmare”.
The story broke soon after government public health expert Dr Jenny Harries advised that people should cut down on socialising this Christmas as it emerged that the new Omicron variant had been spreading across the country.
Following the November lockdown last year, each area across the country were placed by the government into varying ‘tiers’, of which there were initially three, determining what people were and were not allowed to do.
The Prime Minister placed London, which had the highest Covid case rates in the country, into tier three on December 16th. This meant people were banned from all indoor mixing except within their household bubbles.
According to the rules in place at the time, the only legally permissible way under the regulations for either of the reported Downing Street gatherings to have taken place was if it was “reasonably necessary for work”.
One source told The Mirror that there were “many social gatherings” in No 10 in the run-up to Christmas last year while the public faced restrictions, suggesting that there were “always parties” in the flat Boris Johnson shares with wife.
Johnson, during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week, said that no Covid rules were broken but did not deny that the party had taken place on December 18th. Keir Starmer told parliament that “both of those things can’t be true”.