Overview: what has Boris Johnson said about Downing Street parties?

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In the latest development in the partygate scandal, Boris Johnson has been told to resign by senior Conservative MP Mark Harper for breaking coronavirus laws.

Mr Johnson faced MPs in the Commons on Tuesday, where he insisted he did not intentionally mislead Parliament with his earlier denials of rule-breaking parties.

This came after he was handed a fixed penalty notice by the Metropolitan Police over the parties, and is understood to have been present at six of at least 12 events being investigated.

Here is what the Prime Minister has said over each claim 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.”

– June 19 2020: A surprise birthday party held for the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room at Number 10.

Mr Johnson said on April 12 2022 that he had paid a fixed penalty notice in relation to a breach of coronavirus rules.

He said it was “a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes”.

Mr Johnson said “it didn’t occur to me” that it was a breach of the rules but added: “I now humbly accept that I was.”

Addressing the House as it returned from its Easter recess on April 19, Mr Johnson apologised for the “mistake”.

He added: “Let me also say, not by way of mitigation or excuse but purely because it explains my previous words in this House, that it did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules.”

Facing shouts of “resign”, Mr Johnson added: “I repeat that was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly.”

– 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.”

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