Exclusive: Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured drinking at Downing Street party during lockdown
Photographs obtained by ITV News cast fresh doubt on the Prime Minister’s claims that he was unaware of rule-breaking in Downing Street during the pandemic.
The four images show the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party on 13th November 2020
, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him.
They were taken at a gathering in honour of the Downing Street’s then Director of Communications Lee Cain, with eight people pictured standing closely together, as well as the photographer.
ITV News understands there were also other participants out of shot at the party, which one source has dubbed "Fizzgate", despite the rules at the time only allowing two people from different households to mix indoors.
In several of the photographs, Boris Johnson appears to be making a speech and raising a toast, with half a glass of fizz in his hands.
On a chair sits his red box, and on the table next to him are two bottles of champagne or cava, four bottles of wine and half a bottle of gin.
The images also show party cups, biscuits, crisps and other food.
At that time, parties with people outside of your household were banned. Eight days earlier England had been put back into strict lockdown due to soaring cases of Covid-19.
ITV News decided that it was in the public interest to publish the photographs despite being unable to reveal the identities of all the participants.
The latest revelation raises further questions about why the Metropolitan Police did not fine the Prime Minister for attending the party, while others present did receive a Fixed Penalty Notice.
But it also casts doubt on Boris Johnson’s repeated claims made in the House of Commons and elsewhere that all rules were followed in No 10 and that he had been unaware of any law-breaking parties.
On 1st December 2021, he told MPs “all guidance was followed completely in No 10.”
And on 8th December, he again told MPs “I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”, before stating in a Downing Street press conference later that day that “all the evidence I can see is that people in this building have stayed within the rules.”
Yet the photographs show Boris Johnson standing next to aides, looking and smiling at them while they hold glasses of alcohol, with the Prime Minister himself raising his glass in what appears to be a toast.
Parliament’s Privileges Committee is due to begin an investigation into whether he knowingly misled MPs by denying any knowledge of the parties. Doing so would break the ministerial code and normally be a resigning matter.
The photographs also come as civil servant Sue Gray finalises her internal report into the culture of partying in Number 10. It is thought that she may also publish pictures of several events when the report is made public as soon as this week.
Callum Harrison was fined for a similar size party on 30th October 2020, before England went into even tighter lockdown restrictions. He and his eight housemates invited two people over who were not from their household and all ten of them were fined £100 each.
Reacting to the photographs of the Prime Minister drinking at the event two weeks later - for which Boris Johnson did not receive a fine - Callum told us he feels it is a "disgrace" that they were fined while the prime minister was not.
"We only had two people during less strict rules, by the looks of it he had six people there all in his house, partying, socialising, so a lot more severe than what we were doing," he said.
"At the time I took it as it was but now looking back when they’ve done so many more parties compared to we did, I think it’s a disgrace we’ve had to pay this fine and he hasn’t paid a full amount.
"He also should have left office a long, long time ago for what he’s done."
In response, No 10 spokesperson said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs. The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”
The Met Police referred ITV News to statements made last week after they'd completed their investigation into breaches of Covid regulations at Downing Street and Whitehall.
Last Thursday, Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball, of the Met said: “Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed and the importance of ensuring that we had strong evidence for each FPN referral.
“This investigation is now complete.”https://www.itv.com/news/2022-05-23/exclusive-pm-pictured-drinking-at-downing-street-party-during-lockdown