5.9k Share this
He today became the first serving Prime Minister in history to be penalised for law-breaking in office after receiving a fixed-penalty notice (FPN) for attending a Cabinet room afternoon gathering at which cake was served.
They have been sanctioned by Operation Hillman for breaking the law at illicit events that took place while millions of ordinary Britons were showing self-sacrifice and obeying restrictive Covid rules for the good of the country.
But tonight the PM, speaking from Chequers, refused to step down, and insisted that at the time he had not believed he was breaking the rules – rules that he introduced.
He insisted he had only attended for 10 minutes between a heavy rota of meetings and events on his 56th birthday. He also refused to rule out receiving more fines for other events in future.
The PM told broadcasters: ‘The best thing I can do, having paid the fine, is focus on the job in hand … I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people.’
Both Mr Johnson and his wife have paid their fines, believed to be £50, and apologised for the party on June 19, 2020. He told reporters tonight: ‘I have to say, in all frankness, at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.
‘But, of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.
‘I understand the anger many will feel that I myself fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the government I lead had introduced to protect the public.
‘And I accept, in all sincerity, that people had the right to expect better.’
Tonight a snap poll by YouGov showed that three-quarters of Britons believe he knowingly broke his own laws, with 59 per cent saying he should resign.
Mr Johnson tonight faced demands from the opposition to resign after making political and criminal history. But Tory MPs who previously demanded he quit pulled their punches, citing his role in leading Western support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion.
However, some suggested the situation might only be a stay of execution. North Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen, who handed in a letter of no-confidence in the PM earlier this year, said: ‘I am pleased that the police have investigated this matter thoroughly, but very disappointed that so many in number 10 including the PM were found to have breached the rules they set for the rest of us.
‘This is not the time to remove the PM given the international situation, but this is not the end of this matter.’
His comments were echoed by Johnson critic Sir Roger Gale, who said: ‘I am not prepared to give Vladimir Putin the comfort of thinking that we are about to unseat the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and destabilise the coalition against Putin.
‘So any reaction to this is going to have to wait until we have dealt with the main crisis which is Ukraine and the Donbas.’
A former minister told MailOnline that Mr Johnson’s position was ‘far better’ than six or eight weeks ago and he was showing his strengths by managing the threat of a ‘third world war’.
He today became the first serving Prime Minister in history to be penalised for law-breaking as No10 confirmed he will receive a fixed-penalty notice (FPN) for attending a Cabinet room birthday party arranged by his wife.
Mr Johnson also attended a Christmas quiz night in No10 (pictured). It is not known which event the trio were censured for, but they all attended a party organised by Carrie for Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday in June 2020.
The Prime Minister, 57, pictured this week lifting one-year-old Wilf into his arms while his wife Carrie, 34, held four-month-old Romy in a baby sling
Downing Street’s pandemic parties
May 15, 2020: THE GARDEN PARTY
A leaked photo showed Boris and Carrie Johnson with 17 senior Downing Street staff, sitting around cheese and wine. This took place during the first Covid lockdown at a time when only two people from different households could mix outdoors, socially distanced
May 20, 2020: BYOB BASH
A bombshell email from Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 staff to No10’s lavish gardens on May 20 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’. He told guests to bring their own alcohol
JUNE 19 2020: ‘AMBUSHED BY CAKE’ 56th BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR BORIS
Downing Street has admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for Mr Johnson organised by his now wife Carrie. Rishi Sunak has admitted he ‘popped in’ on his way to a meeting elsewhere in Downing Street.
Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of the Downing Street flat, briefly attended while undertaking work there.
It was after this gathering that Tory MP Conor Burns claimed Mr Johnson had been ‘ambushed by a cake’.
No 10 denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.
November 13, 2020: LEE CAIN’S LEAVING DO
The PM allegedly made a leaving speech for his director of communications Lee Cain with a number of people gathered. The party is believed to have carried on upstairs that evening after Dominic Cummings unceremoniously walked out of Downing Street carrying a cardboard box.
November 27, 2020: CLEO WATSON’S LEAVING DO
Mr Johnson reportedly gives a speech at a packed leaving do for a ‘senior aide’. ’40 or 50 people’ were present. The aide was named as one newspaper as Cleo Watson, Dominic Cummings’ protégé.
December 15, 2020: CHRISTMAS QUIZ
Pictures obtained by the Sunday Mirror show Mr Johnson on a TV screen flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No10 library. A source claimed many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol while the quiz was taking place. The Mirror said a message sent by No10’s head of HR on the night of the quiz advised that those who had stayed behind to take part ‘go out the back’ when they left. The paper also unearthed the team names used that night, including ‘Professor Quiz Whitty’, ‘Rebels without a Claus’, and ‘Hands, Face, First Place’.
December 17, 2020: Cabinet Secretary
Simon Case, charged with probing Partygate, hosted a party after sending an email out to around 15 people in his Private Office titled ‘Christmas Quiz’.
December 18, 2020: ANOTHER CHRISTMAS PARTY Downing Street staffers allegedly hold their own festive party, with the PM not in attendance. Group size is also given as 40 to 50.
April 16, 2021: JAMES SLACK’S LEAVING DO
Advisers and civil servants drank alcohol and danced in No10’s basement and gardens to mark the departure of Boris Johnson’s press chief James Slack and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers. Witnesses claimed 30 people attended the two gatherings, which were held in different parts of the Downing Street complex before combining in the garden, on the night before Prince Philip’s funeral.
May 26, 2021: A second, formal leaving event is held for James Slack inside No 10.More than a dozen allegedly attended.
The Metropolitan Police did not disclose if Boris Johnson was among those to be sanctioned with a £50 fine. Downing Street initially indicated that he was not.
But this afternoon a No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices. ‘
Downing Street later confirmed that the fine was in relation to the PM’s birthday party on June 19, 2020 – at which one ally previously said he’d been ‘ambushed by a cake’.
The statement did not mention Carrie Johnson. But her spokeswoman later said she had been fined and had already accepted and paid it. ‘Whilst she believed that she was acting in accordance with the rules at the time, Mrs Johnson accepts the Metropolitan Police’s findings and apologises unreservedly.’
Questions will also be raised over his honesty towards MPs. Last year he told the Commons that ‘all guidance was followed completely in No 10’. Mr Sunak, last December, also told MPs he did not attend any parties.
The Prime Minister, who is at his Chequers country retreat, has yet to publicly acknowledge that the fines being issued by the police are evidence of law-breaking by senior figures in his Government and Whitehall.
Bereaved families said there is ‘simply no way’ the Prime Minister and Chancellor can continue in post, after the pair were told they will be fined as part of a police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats demanded Parliament be recalled from its Easter recess to allow MPs to grill the Prime Minister.
Keir Starmer tonight said: ‘The British public made the most unimaginable, heart-wrenching sacrifices, and many were overcome by guilt. Guilt at not seeing elderly relatives, not going to funerals or weddings, or even seeing the birth of their own children.
‘But the guilty men are the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. They’ve dishonoured all of that sacrifice, they’ve dishonoured their office.
‘This is the first time in the history of our country that a Prime Minister has been found to be in breach of the law, and then he lied repeatedly to the public about it.
‘Britain deserves better, they have to go.’
But even Douglass Ross, the Scottish Tory leader who was among the first to call for Mr Johnson to resign earlier this year, stepped back from the edge.
He said: ‘The public are rightly furious at what happened in Downing Street during the pandemic. I understand why they are angry and share their fury. The behaviour was unacceptable. The Prime Minister now needs to respond to these fines being issued.
‘However, as I’ve made very clear, in the middle of war in Europe, when Vladimir Putin is committing war crimes and the UK is Ukraine’s biggest ally, as President Zelensky said at the weekend, it wouldn’t be right to remove the Prime Minister at this time.
‘It would destabilise the UK Government when we need to be united in the face of Russian aggression and the murdering of innocent Ukrainians.’
One northern Tory MP who has been heavily critical of Mr Johnson suggested there will not be a move against him until next month.
‘I predict nothing will happen until results of local elections are in and the verdict of the electorate is seen, one way or the other,’ they told MailOnline.
The MP said even Mr Sunak resigning might not be enough to force the PM out. ‘I think that’s a bit priced in at the moment, so not as spectacular as it may have been.’
And the former minister alleged ‘damaged’ Mr Sunak would just end up ‘spending more time with his money’ if he decided to quit thinking the Tory Party would respect his ‘principle’.
They added: ‘Rishi could just walk but if he does it is not because of the fine, it is because there is a lot more to come out on the tax front… He might think the Tory Party would hold him in high regard for his principles but it would backfire spectacularly. Nobody would forgive him.’
The MP added: ‘He’d better make really sure he’s got an alternative career plan, or he will be able to spend more time with his money.’
Scotland Yard said it had referred a further 30 FPNs on top of the 20 it had already revealed to the ACRO Criminal Records Office ‘for breaches of Covid-19 regulations’ in 2020 and 2021.
And outside the Conservative ranks the mood was apocalyptic.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Boris Johnson must resign. He broke the law and repeatedly lied to parliament about it. The basic values of integrity and decency – essential to the proper working of any parliamentary democracy – demand that he go. And he should take his out of touch chancellor with him.’
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: ‘These fines expose the shocking scale of the criminality in Boris Johnson’s Number 10.
‘The police have now completely shredded Johnson’s claims that no laws were broken. He cannot be trusted and cannot continue as Prime Minister.
‘No other leader in any other organisation would be allowed to continue after law-breaking on this scale. If Boris Johnson won’t resign, Conservative MPs must show him the door.’
Lobby Akinnola, spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak ‘broke the law’ and ‘took us all for mugs’.
He said: ‘There is simply no way either the Prime Minister or Chancellor can continue. Their dishonesty has caused untold hurt to the bereaved.
‘Not only that, but they have lost all credibility with the wider public, which could cost lives if new variants mean restrictions are needed in the future.
‘If they had any decency they would be gone by tonight.’
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: ‘The investigation into allegations of breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street continues to progress.
‘As of Tuesday, 12 April 2022, we have made over 50 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for breaches of Covid-19 regulations who, following the referral, issue the FPNs to the individual.
‘We are making every effort to progress this investigation at speed, this includes continuing to assess significant amounts of investigative material from which further referrals may be made to ACRO.’
Mr Johnson has continually stonewalled over whether the issuing of the FPNs means the law was broken by people within his administration, saying he wants to wait until the Operation Hillman probe is completed before commenting.
A 34-bottle drinks fridge (pictured right) was delivered by a delivery driver (left) through the back door of Downing Street on December 11, 2020, while indoor socialising was banned. He is not a government worker
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the announcement of at least 30 more fines relating to the partygate saga has ‘blown the Prime Minister’s defence out of the water’.
Downing Street staff allegedly boozed ‘excessively’ at two leaving parties the night before the Queen was forced to grieve alone her own at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Covid-secure funeral last year
But his own ministers have been less circumspect in recent weeks, with Cabinet members among those who have publicly accepted there was illegality in No10.
The penalty for politicians who break the law should be ‘perhaps even greater’, a Tory MP said just before a No 10 spokeswoman confirmed Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak will be issued with fines as part of a police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street.
When asked about the Met Police’s announcement of at least 30 more fines relating to the partygate saga on the BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, said: ‘Well, as lawmakers, it’s essential that we pass laws that we expect people to abide by, because we will do so ourselves as MPs.
‘So if we break them, then that means that the penalty for us should be perhaps even greater than it would be for those who aren’t making the laws. So yes, there is a problem. There is a perception and it doesn’t help the entire last six months has been very difficult for Parliament’s reputation.’
Will Boris now have to resign? Will he be forced out? Can he appeal? Will he get a criminal record? All your questions answered after the PM is fined over Partygate
Will Boris Johnson now have to resign over Partygate?
This is the question that is hanging over Number 10 after it was revealed both the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are to be fined over the Partygate scandal.
Until now, Mr Johnson has repeatedly refused to say whether he would quit if he was fined by police for breaking Covid laws.
He has promised to say ‘something meaningful’ once the Metropolitan Police investigation into Downing Street parties is over.
By convention, government ministers found to have misled parliament are expected to resign.
Opposition parties have claimed that Mr Johnson is already guilty of misleading the House after he previously told MPs that Covid guidance ‘was followed and the rules were followed at all times’ in Downing Street.
Yet it seems unlikely, for a man who long-dreamed of being in No10 before he fulfilled that ambition in 2019, that he would offer to go voluntarily.
Could the PM be forced out?
If he does not choose to resign himself, Mr Johnson’s fate could still be decided by Tory MPs.
Under Conservative rules, if at least 15% of Tory MPs submit a no-confidence letter then the party leader – in this case Mr Johnson – has to face a confidence vote over their leadership.
The figure currently equates to 54 Conservative MPs having to write to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the Party’s powerful 1922 Committee.
It has been said that, when Mr Johnson first faced calls to resign among Tory MPs over Partygate at the beginning of this year, the number of letters received by Sir Graham reached the low-30s.
However, the actual number of letters is a closely-guarded secret and is only known by Sir Graham himself. He will only publicly comment once the 15% threshold is reached.
If Mr Johnson lost a vote of confidence, which would be secret ballot, there would be a leadership contest and the PM would be barred from standing.
However, if he won, Mr Johnson would be immune from another no-confidence vote for a year.
Gavin Barwell, a former MP who was Theresa May’s chief of staff when she survived a confidence vote in 2018, predicted Mr Johnson would not decide to resign himself.
‘Whether he stays is in the hands of Conservative MPs,’ Mr Barwell said.
‘What they decide will define their and the party’s reputation for the forseeable future.’
What about Rishi Sunak?
It has been suggested that Mr Johnson could also be forced to resign if Mr Sunak himself decides to quit after being fined.
The theory goes that should the Chancellor resign – and Mr Sunak has faced a tumultous few days during a row over his family’s finances and tax arrangements – it would place huge pressure on Mr Johnson to do the same.
But one Tory MP told MailOnline that even Mr Sunak resigning might not be enough to force the PM out.
‘I think that’s a bit priced in at the moment, so not as spectacular as it may have been,’ they said.
What exactly has the PM been fined for?
No10 revealed that Mr Johnson had been issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) due to a gathering in the Cabinet Room in Downing Street on 19 June 2020 – which was the PM’s 56th birthday.
It has been claimed that up to 30 people attended a celebratory gathering that afternoon with picnic food from Marks & Spencer and a cake.
Can the PM and Chancellor appeal?
Yes, both Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak can appeal their Covid fines.
The Met Police have said that individuals are allowed to dispute a FPN.
According to ACRO, the police body that processes FPNs, those who do not want to pay a fine, cannot pay, or disagree with any of the information within their FPN, can contest it and request a court hearing.
The relevant police force will then review an individual’s case and decide whether to withdraw the fine or proceed the matter to court.
In the case of Partygate, the Met Police has said that Scotland Yard officers may decide to pursue matters in a magistrates’ court if individuals choose to appeal.
Alternatively, once a fine is paid, police said the matter would be ‘considered closed’.
It seems unlikely that either Mr Johnson or Mr Sunak would want to risk having to appear in court by deciding to appeal their fines.
How much are the PM and Chancellor being fined?
An exact sum is yet to be revealed, while the size of a fine also depends on how many Covid rule breaches Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak are found to have committed.
Scotland Yard have said their Partygate investigation is still not complete, which leaves open the possibility of further fines being issued to senior figures.
In England, people aged over 18 can be fined £100 for a first offence of breaching Covid rules, which is lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days.
A £200 fine is issued for a second offence, which doubles for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400 per offence.
Some have suggested that Mr Johnson potentially faces fines of up to £12,300 if reports of his attendance at rule-breaking gatherings are all found to be true.
When will the PM pay his fine?
Those who recieve a fine for breaching Covid rules have to pay their FPN in full within 28 days, unless otherwise stated, from the date of their letter informing them they have been penalised.
Payment can be made online or via cheque.
Some fines are subject to a 14-day ‘grace period’, which provides an opportunity for those penalised to pay a reduced amount.
However, this grace period – which only applies to some FPNs – cannot be extended if payment is not made before the deadline.
When was the last time a sitting PM was penalised for having broken the law?
Never. Mr Johnson has created history with his Covid fine.
Will the PM and Chancellor now have a criminal record?
According to ACRO, fines issued for Covid offences are non-recordable.
This means, whether an FPN is paid or contested, it will not be recorded on the Police National Computer, although local records may be held by the relevant force.
What parties were there?
Twelve alleged lockdown-busting parties held between 2020 and 2021 are being investigated by Scotland Yard.
They include a gathering held in the Downing Street garden, an event on Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday, parties in the PM’s Downing Street flat, a Number 10 Christmas party, and boozy leaving dos on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.
From a ‘suitcase full of booze’, a BIRTHDAY CAKE for Boris, ‘BYOB parties and one-year-old Wilfred’s broken swing: The Downing Street parties that broke the law while the rest of the country was locked down
From a suitcase ‘full of booze’ to ‘BYOB’ bashes and a raucous garden gathering that ended in baby Wilf’s swing being broken – the details of the parties held at Downing Street while the rest of the nation was in lockdown caused widespread fury.
These include his 56th birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 where, in the words of one Tory MP, he was ‘ambushed by a cake’.
Embattled Chancellor Rishi attended the gathering as did the PM’s wife, Carrie, who were also both fined today. The Met has still not revealed which events their fixed penalty notices were for.
Downing Street are said to have held ‘wine-time Fridays’ every week throughout the pandemic which Mr Johnson attended, with staff even investing in a £142 drinks fridge to keep their beer, prosecco and wine cold.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were today fined for attending illegal lockdown parties at Number 10, as was the PM’s wife, Carrie
Government aides were encouraged by the prime minister, who regularly oversaw the gatherings, to ‘let off steam’ at the regular drinks which would often continue until the early hours, sources told The Mirror.
Staff took turns to stock up on drinks at the local Tesco Metro with a wheely suitcase to fill up the 34-bottle fridge which was delivered through the back door of Downing Street on December 11, 2020, extraordinary pictures revealed.
At the time, households were not allowed to mix indoors or in most outdoor places with exemptions for people in support bubbles, and a maximum of six people were allowed to meet in some outdoor public spaces like parks and public gardens.
Today’s fines are particularly embarrassing given the Prime Minister, speaking in the Commons in December after allegations about parties in Downing Street first emerged, said ‘all guidance was followed completely in No 10’.
Below are details of all the gatherings that were investigated by police.
BYOB garden party – May 20, 2020:
A leaked email from the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, showed No 10 staff were invited to ‘bring your own booze’ to an event in the Downing Street garden.
Mr Johnson admitted he was there for 25 minutes but said he thought it was a ‘work event’ to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.
Mr Johnson with a cake during a visit to a primary school on the day of his 56th birthday. A lockdown-breaking bash was held later that day
Cabinet Office gathering – June 18, 2020
Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s interim report said a gathering in the 70 Whitehall building was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.
The event had not previously been disclosed but The Telegraph said the official in question is former home affairs policy adviser Hannah Young, who left Downing Street to take up the role of deputy consul general in New York.
The newspaper said it understood about 20 people attended, with alcohol consumed.
56th birthday party for the PM – June 19, 2020
Downing Street has admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for Mr Johnson organised by his now wife Carrie.
Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of the Downing Street flat, briefly attended while undertaking work there.
It was after this gathering that Tory MP Conor Burns claimed Mr Johnson had been ‘ambushed by a cake’.
No 10 denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.
‘Dom’s Gone’ bash: November 13, 2020
Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and her husband live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s wife called the claim ‘total nonsense’.
But reports have since suggested that the Prime Minister was seen heading up to the flat on the night in question, with the Mail On Sunday stating that Abba songs, including The Winner Takes It All, were heard coming from the residence.
Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and her husband live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure
Mr Cummings, former de facto chief-of-staff at No 10, has alleged there are photographs of parties held at the flat during lockdown and said he has spoken to people who heard music coming from the Johnsons’ accommodation on the night he left Downing Street.
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.
Lee Cain leaving do: November 13, 2020
Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.
Other bashes that police didn’t investigate
‘Cheese and wine’ garden party: May 15, 2020
The Prime Minister and his wife – apparently holding their newborn baby, Wilf – were seen sitting at a table with two people while another 13 were pictured with bottles of alcohol nearby at a table and on the lawn on Friday May 15, 2020.
The ‘cheese and wine’ party in No10’s garden on May 15, 2020
Second staff leaving do: November 27, 2020
The Mirror reported that the PM gave a farewell speech to an aide at the end of November while the lockdown in England was still in place.
Other reports have said the leaving do was for Cleo Watson, a senior Downing Street aide and ally of Mr Cummings.
Department for Education party: December 10, 2020
The DfE confirmed a social event happened after The Mirror reported that former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.
A spokesman acknowledged that ‘it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time’.
Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’: December 17, 2020
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case removed himself from the inquiry into Whitehall parties – to be replaced by Ms Gray – after reports emerged of a gathering in the Cabinet Office.
It was reported that the do had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was noted in digital calendars as ‘Christmas party!’ and included an online quiz.
The Cabinet Office said Mr Case played no part in the event ‘but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own’.
Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head: December 17, 2020
The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce said she was ‘truly sorry’ over an evening gathering in the Cabinet Office for her leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.
Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she gathered with colleagues who were in the office that day and added that she was cooperating with the Ms Gray’s probe.
Number 10 leaving do: December 17, 2020:
The Sue Gray update said the police are also probing a gathering in Downing Street held to mark the departure of a Number 10 official on December 17.
The Telegraph reported that the staff member in question was Captain Steve Higham, then one of Mr Johnson’s private secretaries, who advised on defence and national security issues.
The Mirror, which first reported the event before the police investigation began, said Mr Johnson was only there ‘for a few minutes’.
Capt Higham became Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in July 2021.
‘Wine and cheese’ Christmas party at Downing Street: December 18, 2020
The claim that kicked off the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.
Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the PM is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference – although it is not clear whether she attended.
Number 10 leaving do for two staff members: January 14, 2021
A gathering was held in No 10 to mark the departure of two private secretaries.
Reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the leaving event, which was for a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, according to The Telegraph.
The other official’s identity is so far unknown.
Drinks and dancing the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral: April 16, 2021
The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.
They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.
Carrie Johnson (left) was also fined today. Mr Johnson is seen on the right drinking water at a reception for teachers in June 2021 which did not break any lockdown rules
Mr Slack, who left his Number 10 role to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his leaving do, while Downing Street apologised to the Queen.
The Telegraph quoted a Number 10 spokesman as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day and is said to have been at Chequers.
The newspaper reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, adding that it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined.
Online Christmas quiz in No 10: December 15, 2020
Police initially said they did not intend to investigate the quiz, during which the Prime Minister appeared on contestants’ screens.
However they later said they would review the decision after a photograph emerged of Mr Johnson alongside an open bottle of sparkling wine.
How Boris Johnson’s line on Partygate has changed
Here is what the Prime Minister has said in response to the claims which have been made.
May 15, 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (cheese and wine)
In December 2021, a photo emerged showing Boris and Carrie Johnson, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s then principal private secretary Martin Reynolds sitting around a table in the No 10 garden during the first national lockdown.
Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 20 2021: ‘Those were meetings of people at work. This is where I live and it’s where I work. Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.’
May 20, 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (BYOB)
An email, leaked to ITV, from Mr Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees, asked them to ‘bring your own booze’ to an evening gathering.
The Prime Minister admitted attending for 25 minutes but insisted he thought the gathering was a work event, while No 10 said Mr Johnson did not know about the event beforehand.
But his former chief aide Dominic Cummings said this was not true, and he had warned it was against the rules.
Mr Johnson said during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in north London: ‘I want to begin by repeating my apologies to everybody for the misjudgments that I’ve made, that we may have made in No 10 and beyond, whether in Downing Street or throughout the pandemic.
‘Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules, that the event in question was something that… was not a work event, and as I said in the House of Commons, when I went out into that garden I thought that I was attending a work event.’
On February 20 2022 he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: ‘You’re just going to have to wait until the process (police investigation) is complete – there is literally not a bean I can tell you about that, as much as I would like to.’
November 13, 2020: Leaving party for senior aide and the Johnsons’ flat party
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and close ally of Mr Cummings.
There were also allegations the Prime Minister’s then fiancee, now wife, hosted parties in the couple’s flat at No 11, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 2020, the night Mr Cummings departed No 10.
Mr Johnson told the Commons on December 8 2021: ‘I’m sure that, whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.’
It was then reported in February 2022 that PM had been seen heading up to his flat on the night in question. The Prime Minister repeatedly refused to say if he was there.
December 15, 2020: Downing Street quiz
The Sunday Mirror published an image in December 2021 showing the Prime Minister flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in No 10 the previous year.
Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson ‘briefly’ attended the quiz after photographic evidence emerged, but insisted it was a virtual event.
In an interview on December 13 2021, the Prime Minister said: ‘I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules – the whole thing will be looked into by the Cabinet Secretary, and what I’m focused on, frankly, is the vaccine rollout.’
On February 9 2022, at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Mr Johnson was challenged by Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who said the image appeared to show ‘one of the Christmas parties he told us never happened’.
He added: ‘Will the Prime Minister be referring this party to the police as it is not one of the ones currently being investigated?’
Mr Johnson responded: ‘In what he has just said, I’m afraid he is completely in error.’
Challenged again during PMQs, Mr Johnson added: ‘That event already has been submitted for investigation.’
December 18, 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street
According to reports which first emerged at the end of November 2021, officials and advisers made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged secret Santa gifts – although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 7 2021: ‘I have satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.’
He said in the House of Commons the next day: ‘I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken. That is what I have been repeatedly assured.’
The Prime Minister added: ‘I apologise for the impression that has been given that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously. I am sickened myself and furious about that, but I repeat what I have said to him: I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken.’
April 16, 2021: Leaving parties on the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on April 16 2021, as the country was in mourning after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
One was for former Downing Street director of communications James Slack and the second for a photographer, and they were later reported to have merged.
The newspaper said No 10 staff partied until the early hours of the morning in a seven-hour drinking session.
Wine and spirits with mixers were said to have been served in disposable plastic cups, and at one point alcohol was reportedly spilled on an office printer.
Takeaway pizzas were reported to have been ordered in and some of the revellers were said to have used a slide belonging to Mr and Mrs Johnson’s son, Wilfred.
The following day the Queen sat alone, socially distanced from her family, as she said goodbye to her husband.
No 10 previously said an apology had been extended to Buckingham Palace.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I deeply and bitterly regret that that happened.’
He added: ‘I can only renew my apologies both to Her Majesty and to the country for misjudgments that were made, and for which I take full responsibility.’
Here is what the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said on four occasions about partygate:
December 7, 2021:
Speaking during a session of questions to the Treasury in the House of Commons, Mr Sunak denied attending parties when asked if he was at reported Christmas gatherings in December 2020.
Labour MP Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) had asked: ‘The Chancellor was evasive when interviewed by the media last week but we need a clear answer on this very important point because many people across the country made great personal sacrifice during the lockdown.
‘So will the Chancellor categorically deny in the House that he or any of his officials or spads (special advisers) attended any of the Downing Street Christmas parties on November 27 or December 18 last year?’
Mr Sunak replied: ‘No, I did not attend any parties.’
January 18, 2022:
The Chancellor abruptly ended an interview when pressed if he would give his full support to the Prime Minister. At the time six Conservative MPs had publicly called for Mr Johnson to go.
In his first interview since Mr Johnson’s apology to MPs over the scandal, the Chancellor said he accepted Mr Johnson’s explanation that he was not warned in advance about a No 10 drinks party during lockdown in May 2020.
‘Of course I do. The Prime Minister set out his understanding of this matter last week in Parliament. I refer you to his words,’ he told broadcasters.
‘Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into this matter and I fully support the Prime Minister’s requests for patience while that concludes.’
Asked if the Prime Minister should resign if he lied to Parliament, Mr Sunak said: ‘I am not going to get into hypotheticals, the ministerial code is clear on these matters.’
Pressed on whether Mr Johnson had his unequivocal support, Mr Sunak swiftly broke off the interview, walking off with a microphone still attached.
February 3, 2022:
The Chancellor acknowledged he was in the Cabinet Room when No 10 staff held a birthday gathering for Boris Johnson on June 19 2020.
Mr Sunak told the BBC he had been there for a meeting to discuss the Covid-19 situation.
‘I am in the Cabinet Room for a Covid meeting much like the other 100, 200, God knows how many other Covid meetings,’ he said.
‘You’re asking me about something that happened almost two years ago. I went to that Cabinet Room, as I did many other times for Covid meetings. And it’s right that we allow this police investigation.’
The Chancellor also acknowledged that the Government needed to rebuild public confidence following the disclosures over parties during lockdown.
‘I can appreciate people’s frustration. And I think it’s now the job of all of us in government, all politicians, to restore people’s trust,’ he said.
February 11, 2022:
Mr Sunak told Sky News he had not received a questionnaire from the Met Police at that time and, asked whether he expected to receive a form to complete, he replied: ‘No… well, I don’t know.’
He also replied ‘no’ when asked if he believed he had broken lockdown rules.
Pressed about whether he still had confidence in Mr Johnson, the Chancellor added: ‘The Prime Minister has my total support.’
Source: Daily Mail