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Downing Street parties: What Covid rules were broken? Downing Street parties: What Covid rules were broken?
(about 3 hours later)
Pictures of the prime minister raising a glass with members of staff and surrounded by bottles of wine at Downing Street during lockdown have been published by ITV.Pictures of the prime minister raising a glass with members of staff and surrounded by bottles of wine at Downing Street during lockdown have been published by ITV.
They are from 13 November 2020, a date which the Metropolitan Police has issued fines over but not to Boris Johnson.They are from 13 November 2020, a date which the Metropolitan Police has issued fines over but not to Boris Johnson.
The Met has completed its investigation into breaches of Covid regulations in and around Downing Street, issuing a total of 126 fines to 83 individuals.The Met has completed its investigation into breaches of Covid regulations in and around Downing Street, issuing a total of 126 fines to 83 individuals.
The prime minister has only been fined over a birthday celebration in Downing Street on 19 June 2020. Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Mr Johnson's wife, Carrie were also fined for the same gathering.The prime minister has only been fined over a birthday celebration in Downing Street on 19 June 2020. Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Mr Johnson's wife, Carrie were also fined for the same gathering.
Partygate: What could the Sue Gray report reveal?Partygate: What could the Sue Gray report reveal?
So what were the rules at the time?So what were the rules at the time?
13 November 2020 - two gatherings13 November 2020 - two gatherings
Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating gatherings in Downing Street, says there were two on this date: one to mark the departure of a special adviser and one in the Downing Street flat.Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating gatherings in Downing Street, says there were two on this date: one to mark the departure of a special adviser and one in the Downing Street flat.
The photos published by ITV show the prime minister with at least six other people and bottles of wine, marking the departure of his former special adviser, Lee Cain.The photos published by ITV show the prime minister with at least six other people and bottles of wine, marking the departure of his former special adviser, Lee Cain.
The BBC has been told that at least one person has been fined for attending this event, but not the prime minister.The BBC has been told that at least one person has been fined for attending this event, but not the prime minister.
Members of Downing Street staff have told Panorama that people at that gathering had sat on each other's laps.Members of Downing Street staff have told Panorama that people at that gathering had sat on each other's laps.
The other gathering was in the private flat of Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie following the departure of Dominic Cummings, the PM's former senior adviser.The other gathering was in the private flat of Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie following the departure of Dominic Cummings, the PM's former senior adviser.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson was seen heading up to the flat on the night of the event. Downing Street said it could not comment on this.According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson was seen heading up to the flat on the night of the event. Downing Street said it could not comment on this.
Previously, when asked in Parliament whether a party did take place on this date, the prime minister told MPs: "No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times."Previously, when asked in Parliament whether a party did take place on this date, the prime minister told MPs: "No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times."
The rules at the timeThe rules at the time
A second national lockdown was in force.A second national lockdown was in force.
The rules prohibited indoor gatherings of two or more people. The police have confirmed that the fines handed out over this event were for breaching this restriction.The rules prohibited indoor gatherings of two or more people. The police have confirmed that the fines handed out over this event were for breaching this restriction.
An exception was allowed if the gathering "was reasonably necessary" for work purposes. But we can assume the police did not judge the leaving event to have been necessary because at least one fine has been issued.An exception was allowed if the gathering "was reasonably necessary" for work purposes. But we can assume the police did not judge the leaving event to have been necessary because at least one fine has been issued.
The "working safely during coronavirus" guidance at the time said only "absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout".The "working safely during coronavirus" guidance at the time said only "absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout".
There is nothing in the guidelines that would suggest that drinking, socialising or other types of work event along these lines would have been allowed.There is nothing in the guidelines that would suggest that drinking, socialising or other types of work event along these lines would have been allowed.
19 June 2020 - birthday celebration19 June 2020 - birthday celebration
This took place in the Cabinet Room and was reportedly arranged as a surprise for Mr Johnson by his then fiancee, Carrie Symonds.This took place in the Cabinet Room and was reportedly arranged as a surprise for Mr Johnson by his then fiancee, Carrie Symonds.
Rishi Sunak was also there, but he told BBC News in February that he had gone to the Cabinet Room for a Covid meeting.Rishi Sunak was also there, but he told BBC News in February that he had gone to the Cabinet Room for a Covid meeting.
Up to 30 people attended, sang Happy Birthday and were served cake, according to ITV News. As well as Downing Street staff, the interior designer Lulu Lytle - who was not a member of No 10 staff - was present.Up to 30 people attended, sang Happy Birthday and were served cake, according to ITV News. As well as Downing Street staff, the interior designer Lulu Lytle - who was not a member of No 10 staff - was present.
No 10 said staff had "gathered briefly" to "wish the prime minister a happy birthday", adding that the PM had been there "for less than 10 minutes".No 10 said staff had "gathered briefly" to "wish the prime minister a happy birthday", adding that the PM had been there "for less than 10 minutes".
Sue Gray report: What exactly is she looking at?
The rules at the timeThe rules at the time
Gatherings of two or more people inside were banned by law. An exception was allowed if the gathering "was reasonably necessary" for work purposes.Gatherings of two or more people inside were banned by law. An exception was allowed if the gathering "was reasonably necessary" for work purposes.
The fines known as fixed penalty notices (FPN) started at £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. Fines doubled for each further offence. The initial fine increased to £200 in September 2020.The fines known as fixed penalty notices (FPN) started at £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. Fines doubled for each further offence. The initial fine increased to £200 in September 2020.
As Mr Johnson was issued with an FPN for this gathering, it is clear the police have not deemed the gathering to have been necessary.As Mr Johnson was issued with an FPN for this gathering, it is clear the police have not deemed the gathering to have been necessary.
20 May 2020 - garden drinks party20 May 2020 - garden drinks party
Boris Johnson apologised to MPs for attending a drinks party in the Downing Street garden, saying he spent 25 minutes thanking staff, before returning to his office.Boris Johnson apologised to MPs for attending a drinks party in the Downing Street garden, saying he spent 25 minutes thanking staff, before returning to his office.
Staff had been invited to "bring your own booze" to the event. Mr Johnson said he had not been notified in advance and had "believed implicitly" it had been a work event.Staff had been invited to "bring your own booze" to the event. Mr Johnson said he had not been notified in advance and had "believed implicitly" it had been a work event.
The rules at the timeThe rules at the time
At that time in the first lockdown, gatherings of two or more people were outlawed in a public place and it has been pointed out that the Downing Street garden is not a public place. The law was later changed.At that time in the first lockdown, gatherings of two or more people were outlawed in a public place and it has been pointed out that the Downing Street garden is not a public place. The law was later changed.
But the regulations did say people could not leave their homes - or be outside the place they lived - without a reasonable excuse, which included work (where you couldn't work from home).But the regulations did say people could not leave their homes - or be outside the place they lived - without a reasonable excuse, which included work (where you couldn't work from home).
Covid rules expert Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, says it is difficult to see how this Downing Street event would have been in line with the rules.Covid rules expert Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, says it is difficult to see how this Downing Street event would have been in line with the rules.
"If you were doing something which wasn't necessary for work then you weren't outside of your house [with] a reasonable excuse and you were potentially committing a criminal offence.""If you were doing something which wasn't necessary for work then you weren't outside of your house [with] a reasonable excuse and you were potentially committing a criminal offence."
However, he added that as the prime minister and his wife live in Downing Street they would not have technically left their home to attend the party.However, he added that as the prime minister and his wife live in Downing Street they would not have technically left their home to attend the party.
The Met has confirmed that fines were issued because of breaches of the restrictions on leaving, or being outside of, the place where you were living without reasonable excuse.The Met has confirmed that fines were issued because of breaches of the restrictions on leaving, or being outside of, the place where you were living without reasonable excuse.
On the day of the party, the government Twitter account reminded people of the existing guidance that gatherings must be limited to two people outside.On the day of the party, the government Twitter account reminded people of the existing guidance that gatherings must be limited to two people outside.
Mr Johnson told MPs that as a "work event", he believed the gathering was technically within the guidance.Mr Johnson told MPs that as a "work event", he believed the gathering was technically within the guidance.
The guidance said only "absolutely necessary" participants should attend meetings and social distancing should be observed.The guidance said only "absolutely necessary" participants should attend meetings and social distancing should be observed.
There was nothing in the guidelines to suggest that drinking or socialising would have been allowed.There was nothing in the guidelines to suggest that drinking or socialising would have been allowed.
16 April 2021 - leaving parties16 April 2021 - leaving parties
The night before the socially-distanced funeral for Prince Philip, two leaving parties took place in Downing Street.The night before the socially-distanced funeral for Prince Philip, two leaving parties took place in Downing Street.
Boris Johnson did not attend these gatherings but has apologised that they happened.Boris Johnson did not attend these gatherings but has apologised that they happened.
We know that some of the fines issued relate to the leaving party for former No 10 director of communications James Slack, who has also apologised.We know that some of the fines issued relate to the leaving party for former No 10 director of communications James Slack, who has also apologised.
Police issue fines over No 10 gathering on eve of Prince Philip's funeralPolice issue fines over No 10 gathering on eve of Prince Philip's funeral
The rules at the timeThe rules at the time
The rules had been eased in England on 12 April 2021, but working from home continued to be recommended and socialising indoors with people from other households was not allowed.The rules had been eased in England on 12 April 2021, but working from home continued to be recommended and socialising indoors with people from other households was not allowed.
There was an exemption for "work purposes" but this did not mention socialising at work.There was an exemption for "work purposes" but this did not mention socialising at work.
The Met said that the fines were for breaches of the rules on participating in an outdoor gathering with more than six people.The Met said that the fines were for breaches of the rules on participating in an outdoor gathering with more than six people.
14 January 2021 - gathering14 January 2021 - gathering
A gathering was held in Downing Street for the departure of two No 10 private secretaries, Ms Gray's report states.A gathering was held in Downing Street for the departure of two No 10 private secretaries, Ms Gray's report states.
According to the Guardian, Boris Johnson made a short speech and stayed for around five minutes. Prosecco is said to have been drunk by some staff.According to the Guardian, Boris Johnson made a short speech and stayed for around five minutes. Prosecco is said to have been drunk by some staff.
The rules at the timeThe rules at the time
England had entered its third national lockdown on 6 January 2021. A "stay at home" order was in place. People were allowed to leave home for work (if they could not reasonably work from home), but were not allowed to meet socially with others.England had entered its third national lockdown on 6 January 2021. A "stay at home" order was in place. People were allowed to leave home for work (if they could not reasonably work from home), but were not allowed to meet socially with others.
The fines were for attending an indoor gathering of two or more people.The fines were for attending an indoor gathering of two or more people.
18 June 2020 - gathering18 June 2020 - gathering
There was a gathering in the Cabinet Office for the departure of a No 10 private secretary.There was a gathering in the Cabinet Office for the departure of a No 10 private secretary.
The former director of ethics in the cabinet office, Helen MacNamara, has apologised after confirming that she received a fine for attending the event.The former director of ethics in the cabinet office, Helen MacNamara, has apologised after confirming that she received a fine for attending the event.
The rules at the timeThe rules at the time
This gathering was the day before the one for Mr Johnson's birthday - the rules were the same.This gathering was the day before the one for Mr Johnson's birthday - the rules were the same.
The fines were for participating in an indoor gathering with two or more people.The fines were for participating in an indoor gathering with two or more people.
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Watch: What has the PM said before about alleged No 10 parties?Watch: What has the PM said before about alleged No 10 parties?
17 and 18 December 202017 and 18 December 2020
Three events took place on 17 December: two for the departure of officials and a Christmas quiz.Three events took place on 17 December: two for the departure of officials and a Christmas quiz.
We do not know which events the fines were issued for.We do not know which events the fines were issued for.
There was also a gathering ahead of the Christmas break on 18 December 2020, which was joked about in a leaked Downing Street press conference video.There was also a gathering ahead of the Christmas break on 18 December 2020, which was joked about in a leaked Downing Street press conference video.
What were the rules?What were the rules?
The Christmas gatherings happened shortly after London had been moved to tougher tier 3 restrictions, which meant mixing indoors with people outside your household or bubble was not allowed.The Christmas gatherings happened shortly after London had been moved to tougher tier 3 restrictions, which meant mixing indoors with people outside your household or bubble was not allowed.
The fines were for going to indoor gatherings with two or more people.The fines were for going to indoor gatherings with two or more people.
Furthermore, the government's 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."Furthermore, the government's 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."
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