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Downing Street Christmas party: What were the Covid rules at the time? Downing Street Christmas party: What were the Covid rules at the time?
(2 days later)
An investigation by the Cabinet Secretary into possible Covid rule breaches will be extended to a Christmas quiz that took place in Downing Street last year.An investigation by the Cabinet Secretary into possible Covid rule breaches will be extended to a Christmas quiz that took place in Downing Street last year.
This will be the fourth gathering to be looked into by Simon Case.This will be the fourth gathering to be looked into by Simon Case.
Mr Johnson says he "certainly broke no rules".Mr Johnson says he "certainly broke no rules".
What's the row about?What's the row about?
The Daily Mirror first reported that a party took place in Downing Street on 18 December last year.The Daily Mirror first reported that a party took place in Downing Street on 18 December last year.
Downing Street insisted no party took place and that "Covid rules have been followed at all times". A number of ministers appeared on television and radio to repeat the denials.Downing Street insisted no party took place and that "Covid rules have been followed at all times". A number of ministers appeared on television and radio to repeat the denials.
But a source confirmed to the BBC that there was a party, with "several dozen" people in attendance.But a source confirmed to the BBC that there was a party, with "several dozen" people in attendance.
A video - obtained by ITV News - showed a recording of a rehearsal on 22 December for Downing Street's proposed media briefings.A video - obtained by ITV News - showed a recording of a rehearsal on 22 December for Downing Street's proposed media briefings.
This video can not be playedThis video can not be played
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Watch: Video obtained by ITV News shows Downing Street staff joking about a No 10 Christmas party during a mock press conferenceWatch: Video obtained by ITV News shows Downing Street staff joking about a No 10 Christmas party during a mock press conference
In the video, the prime minister's then-press secretary Allegra Stratton is asked by colleagues about reports of a party. She jokes: "This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced."In the video, the prime minister's then-press secretary Allegra Stratton is asked by colleagues about reports of a party. She jokes: "This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced."
Ms Stratton later resigned.Ms Stratton later resigned.
It is also understood that Jack Doyle, who was deputy director of communications at the time and is now the prime minister's press chief, addressed staff and gave out awards at the party on 18 December.It is also understood that Jack Doyle, who was deputy director of communications at the time and is now the prime minister's press chief, addressed staff and gave out awards at the party on 18 December.
Boris Johnson has has declared his full confidence in Mr Doyle.Boris Johnson has has declared his full confidence in Mr Doyle.
Were there other parties last year?Were there other parties last year?
As well as the 18 December party, there are multiple reports of several other events.As well as the 18 December party, there are multiple reports of several other events.
15 May: Downing Street has denied reports from the Guardian and the Independent that Boris Johnson attended a No 10 party in May 2020, when the country was in its first lockdown. The newspapers reported around 20 staff drank alcohol and ate pizzas at a gathering after a government press conference, with the prime minister joining them for around 15 minutes.
13 November: Sources told the BBC that several Downing Street staff members attended a gathering with Carrie Johnson in the flat where the prime minister and his wife live. A source said music was blaring and could be heard elsewhere in the building. But others said to be at the party denied it took place, as did a spokeswoman for Mrs Johnson. It was the same date that Dominic Cummings left as chief adviser to the PM.13 November: Sources told the BBC that several Downing Street staff members attended a gathering with Carrie Johnson in the flat where the prime minister and his wife live. A source said music was blaring and could be heard elsewhere in the building. But others said to be at the party denied it took place, as did a spokeswoman for Mrs Johnson. It was the same date that Dominic Cummings left as chief adviser to the PM.
27 November: Another No 10 aide, Cleo Watson, left Downing Street, marked by an event. Again, sources said it was not formally organised, but people were having drinks and Mr Johnson made a speech.27 November: Another No 10 aide, Cleo Watson, left Downing Street, marked by an event. Again, sources said it was not formally organised, but people were having drinks and Mr Johnson made a speech.
10 December: The Department for Education has confirmed it had a gathering in the office to thank staff for their work during the pandemic. Drinks and snacks were brought by those who attended and no outside guests or support staff were invited. 10 December: The Department for Education has confirmed it had an office gathering to thank staff for their work during the pandemic. It says drinks and snacks were brought by those who attended and no outside guests or support staff were invited.
14 December: The Conservatives have confirmed a report in the Times that there was an "unauthorised social gathering" in the basement of the party's headquarters, held by the team of the then-London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey. It was described as "raucous" and was attended by No 10 aides, with dancing and drinking into the early hours. Mr Bailey, who is a member of the London Assembly, has stepped down as chair of a police and crime committee. 14 December: The Conservatives have confirmed a report in the Times that there was an "unauthorised social gathering" in the basement of the party's headquarters, held by the team of the then-London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey. It was described as "raucous" and was attended by No 10 aides, with dancing and drinking into the early hours. Mr Bailey, who is a member of the London Assembly, has stepped down as chair of a police and crime committee. The Metropolitan Police is to speak to two people who attended the party.
15 December: Multiple sources have told the BBC there was a Christmas quiz for No 10 staff last year and that invites were sent out via email, telling people to form teams of six. A photo - published by the Sunday Mirror - shows Boris Johnson taking part and sitting between two colleagues in No 10. Downing Street said the PM "briefly took part virtually" to thank staff for their work during the pandemic.15 December: Multiple sources have told the BBC there was a Christmas quiz for No 10 staff last year and that invites were sent out via email, telling people to form teams of six. A photo - published by the Sunday Mirror - shows Boris Johnson taking part and sitting between two colleagues in No 10. Downing Street said the PM "briefly took part virtually" to thank staff for their work during the pandemic.
The Sunday Mirror has published a picture of Mr Johnson at the quiz, which it said was on 15 December.The Sunday Mirror has published a picture of Mr Johnson at the quiz, which it said was on 15 December.
16 December: The Department for Transport has apologised after confirming reports in the Daily Mirror that there had been a party there. The department admitted it was "inappropriate" and an "error of judgment" by staff.
What parties are being investigated?What parties are being investigated?
An investigation - led by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case - will examine:An investigation - led by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case - will examine:
The alleged gathering on 27 NovemberThe alleged gathering on 27 November
The Department for Education gathering on 10 DecemberThe Department for Education gathering on 10 December
The Downing Street Christmas quiz on 15 DecemberThe Downing Street Christmas quiz on 15 December
The alleged Downing Street party on 18 DecemberThe alleged Downing Street party on 18 December
Mr Case will look at the purpose of the events, who attended and whether rules were followed.Mr Case will look at the purpose of the events, who attended and whether rules were followed.
The PM said Mr Case would report back "as soon as we reasonably can".The PM said Mr Case would report back "as soon as we reasonably can".
What were the Covid rules at the time?What were the Covid rules at the time?
At the time of the alleged gathering on 27 November, there was still a national lockdown in force and indoor gatherings were not allowed.At the time of the alleged gathering on 27 November, there was still a national lockdown in force and indoor gatherings were not allowed.
After the national lockdown ended, England returned to its three-tier system of Covid restrictions. The Downing Street Christmas quiz on 15 December occurred while London was in tier 2.After the national lockdown ended, England returned to its three-tier system of Covid restrictions. The Downing Street Christmas quiz on 15 December occurred while London was in tier 2.
These rules stated that "you must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting." There was an exception for work that was "reasonably necessary".These rules stated that "you must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting." There was an exception for work that was "reasonably necessary".
A Downing Street source told the BBC that Mr Johnson took part in the quiz virtually and the two other people in the picture were members of the PM's closer staff who had come in to help him with the technology.A Downing Street source told the BBC that Mr Johnson took part in the quiz virtually and the two other people in the picture were members of the PM's closer staff who had come in to help him with the technology.
Mr Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.Mr Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.
Any party at Downing Street on 18 December would have breached the government's guidelines at the time.Any party at Downing Street on 18 December would have breached the government's guidelines at the time.
Its guidance for the Christmas period specifically said: "Although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier."Its guidance for the Christmas period specifically said: "Although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier."
This same line was also tweeted out by the official gov.uk account on 17 December 2021 - one day before the alleged party - in response to a question about whether Christmas parties were allowed in the workplace.This same line was also tweeted out by the official gov.uk account on 17 December 2021 - one day before the alleged party - in response to a question about whether Christmas parties were allowed in the workplace.
By this time, London had been moved to tier 3 rules. Gatherings of two or more people indoors were banned (unless "reasonably necessary" for work) and there was a specific prohibition on organising an indoor gathering of more than 30 people.By this time, London had been moved to tier 3 rules. Gatherings of two or more people indoors were banned (unless "reasonably necessary" for work) and there was a specific prohibition on organising an indoor gathering of more than 30 people.
But there may have theoretically been a legal loophole for government buildings like 10 Downing Street because of the 1984 legislation used to bring in the tier system, according to Adam Wagner - a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and an expert on Covid regulations.But there may have theoretically been a legal loophole for government buildings like 10 Downing Street because of the 1984 legislation used to bring in the tier system, according to Adam Wagner - a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and an expert on Covid regulations.
Another barrister, Charles Holland from Trinity Chambers, tweeted that there would have needed to be an agreement with Westminster City Council for the regulations to apply in Downing Street.Another barrister, Charles Holland from Trinity Chambers, tweeted that there would have needed to be an agreement with Westminster City Council for the regulations to apply in Downing Street.
We asked Westminster City Council to confirm whether this was the case, but they did not respond.We asked Westminster City Council to confirm whether this was the case, but they did not respond.
What have the police said?What have the police said?
The Metropolitan Police says it is not currently investigating the allegations. The Metropolitan Police says it is not currently investigating the allegations except for the one at Conservative Party HQ.
"Based on the absence of evidence and in line with our policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of such regulations, the Met will not commence an investigation at this time," it said. The force said that a "significant amount of material" had been provided.
But it added that: "Officers do not normally investigate breaches of Coronavirus Regulations when they are reported long after they are said to have taken place. However, if significant evidence suggesting a breach of the regulations becomes available, officers may review and consider it."
The government has that the matter could still be referred to the police if the investigation uncovers any potential criminal offences.The government has that the matter could still be referred to the police if the investigation uncovers any potential criminal offences.
What happened to people who broke the rules?What happened to people who broke the rules?
Thousands of of people were fined for breaking rules on gatherings last year, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs' Council.Thousands of of people were fined for breaking rules on gatherings last year, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs' Council.
Between March 2020 and January 2021:Between March 2020 and January 2021:
2,982 fines were issued in England for participating in a gathering inside a house or any indoor space in a Tier 3 area.2,982 fines were issued in England for participating in a gathering inside a house or any indoor space in a Tier 3 area.
250 fines were issued in England for holding a gathering of more than 30 people250 fines were issued in England for holding a gathering of more than 30 people
At the time, large parties could be shut down by the police - with fines of up to £10,000. Examples include:At the time, large parties could be shut down by the police - with fines of up to £10,000. Examples include:
The organiser of a party in High Wycombe, attended by about 200 people, was fined last DecemberThe organiser of a party in High Wycombe, attended by about 200 people, was fined last December
More than 100 people attended a party in Northampton, also in December. The organiser was given a £10,000 fineMore than 100 people attended a party in Northampton, also in December. The organiser was given a £10,000 fine
In February, a woman was fined £10,000 for organising a birthday party, attended by more than 30 people in OrmskirkIn February, a woman was fined £10,000 for organising a birthday party, attended by more than 30 people in Ormskirk
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