Partygate: No.10 insiders speak out claiming parties held 'every week'

·3-min read
Partygate: No.10 insiders speak out claiming parties held 'every week'
Partygate: No.10 insiders speak out claiming parties held 'every week'

INSIDERS working at the heart of government have spoken out about the partygate affair for the first time, challenging the Prime Minister's version of events.

Speaking to Laura Kuessenberg for BBC Panorama, the No.10 sources said there were parties "every week" and many were in disbelief when they watched Mr Johnson deny there had been any.

The civil servants, two of whom received police fines themselves, have spoken to the BBc on condition of anonymity.

One insider said there were regular events at 4pm on a Friday, dubbed 'wine time Fridays', and added that it was not unusual to see Boris Johnson there.

They said the event was often marked as 'WTF' in the No.10 press team's calendars.

One staffer said they felt Mr Johnson had given "permission" for the events to take place because “he was there".

HeraldScotland:
HeraldScotland:

They said: "He may have just been popping through on the way to his flat because that's what would happen. You know, he wasn't there saying this shouldn't be happening! He wasn't saying: 'Can everyone break up and go home? Can everyone socially distance? Can everyone put masks on?'

"No, he wasn't telling anybody that. He was grabbing a glass for himself!"

They said the wine time Friday social events were routine, and  “became a lifeline during the pandemic, particularly if you were sort of living alone on Fridays to have this chance to, work at your desk and drink together”.

They said "it was not unusual for the Prime Minister to be there" because "he seemed to be a believer in letting his staff let their hair down a little bit”.

When the email from the Prime Minister's former private secretary Martin Reynolds was sent round, inviting around 100 people to a 'BYOB' event in the No.10 garden, they thought it was  "foolish…, I think people knew that it would be trouble if and when it got out.".

One staffer who attended the event on November 13, 2020, of which photographs were leaked to ITV news yesterday, said there were dozens of people there.

The party was to mark the departure of Lee Cain, then director of Communications at No.10.

They said: "There was about 30 people if not more in a room. Everyone was stood shoulder to shoulder, some people on each others laps."

They described disbelief in Downing Street when staff had heard Mr Johnson say "there were no parties" when asked by MPs.

They said, "We were watching it all live and we just sort of looked at each other in disbelief like - why? Why is he denying this?"

The testimony has emerged as the Prime Minister faces renewed calls to quit over his own attendance at lockdown events, and his statements to Parliament. Panorama asked Downing Street for a response and they declined to comment but said they would give a full response to the publication of the Sue Gray report.

Partygate: Inside the Storm, is to be broadcast at 7pm on BBC 2 tonight.

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