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Partygate: Boris Johnson facing questions after photos emerge Partygate: Boris Johnson facing questions after photos emerge
(about 2 hours later)
ITV published four photos from the event, including this one showing the PM's red box, used for official papersITV published four photos from the event, including this one showing the PM's red box, used for official papers
Boris Johnson is facing fresh questions after photos show the prime minister drinking at a party during a Covid lockdown. Boris Johnson is facing fresh questions after photos showing the prime minister drinking at an event during a Covid lockdown were published.
The pictures, released by ITV News, are believed to show the prime minister at a leaving party on 13 November 2020.The pictures, released by ITV News, are believed to show the prime minister at a leaving party on 13 November 2020.
Asked in Parliament in December whether the gathering had taken place, Mr Johnson denied it had and said all rules were followed.
The Metropolitan Police are also facing calls to explain why he was not fined.
The BBC has been told that at least one person who attended the event was fined, but the PM was not.The BBC has been told that at least one person who attended the event was fined, but the PM was not.
A government source told the BBC that the photos may have been taken by the official Number 10 photographer and prove Boris Johnson was there is a work capacity. The Metropolitan Police are facing calls to explain why Mr Johnson did not receive a fine.
Meanwhile, civil servant Sue Gray's report into No 10 parties is imminent, a Downing Street source said. A government source told BBC News the photos may have been taken by the official No 10 photographer and proved Mr Johnson was there in a work capacity.
The police watchdog has been urged to review the force's handling of the Partygate investigation. The police investigated two events in Downing Street on 13 November. Asked in Parliament by a Labour MP whether a party had taken place on that date, Mr Johnson said "no", adding that "I'm sure...all the rules were followed".
A raft of allegations about gatherings held in Downing Street and Whitehall throughout the pandemic led to a Metropolitan Police investigation into 12 events.
The Covid rules when Downing Street parties were heldThe Covid rules when Downing Street parties were held
What did Boris Johnson tell Parliament about parties?What did Boris Johnson tell Parliament about parties?
The inquiry concluded last week, with a total of 126 fixed penalty notices being issued to 83 individuals for parties held over eight separate dates. Meanwhile, a government source has also told the BBC that civil servant Sue Gray may hand her report on parties to Downing Street on Wednesday, followed by a statement in Parliament and a press conference by the prime minister.
Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak all received one fine each for attending a birthday party thrown in the PM's honour in June 2020. Responding to the leaks, Labour's Jonathan Ashworth said it would be difficult for the PM to reconcile his statement to Parliament that no party had taken place with the pictures and called on Tory MPs to remove him from office.
But No 10 confirmed the PM was not facing any additional fines from the police. The peer and former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, said the prime minister had lied to Parliament and his position was now untenable.
The prime minister and the Met are under fresh scrutiny after ITV News published four new photographs on Monday which it says were taken at the leaving do for Mr Johnson's communications chief, Lee Cain on 13 November 2020. Senior Conservative Tom Tugendhat was also critical telling the BBC that: "Seriousness in government matters. It costs us all. And I'm afraid this just doesn't look serious."
Mr Johnson is pictured toasting colleagues while standing by a table laden with wine bottles, wine glasses, food and other drinks. But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that while he found the picture "difficult to look at", he suggested the presence of the PM's ministerial red box "suggests he was probably on his way through".
A second coronavirus lockdown was in place in England at the time the photographs were taken, with indoor gatherings of two or more people banned, except if "reasonably necessary" for work purposes. "I think he's popped down there to raise a glass and say thank you to a long term member of staff who is leaving," he said, adding that the police would have "thoroughly investigated" the event.
The emergence of the photographs has sparked fresh claims from opposition MPs and others that Mr Johnson knowingly misled Parliament when he previously told them no Covid rules had been broken in Downing Street. A No 10 spokeswoman said the prime minister would address Parliament "in full" after senior civil servant Sue Gray published her report into the gatherings "in the coming days".
On 8 December 2020, Labour MP Catherine West asked Mr Johnson in the Commons if a party had taken place in Downing Street on 13 November - though it is not clear if she was referring to the event photographed. There was support for the PM from Conservative backbench MP Sir Desmond Swayne, who said he believed it was a "work do", adding "that's what people do at work".
The PM replied: "No, but I'm sure whatever happened the guidance was followed and all the rules were followed at all times." He told BBC Newsnight: "Now I understand entirely the public anguish at a time when they were locked down and they were not supposed to be together, but there clearly was a distinction between the workplace - where people work together and are effectively in a bubble - and what was taking place outside."
The prime minister faces a probe by the Commons' Privileges Committee about whether he lied to MPs. Under government guidelines, ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament are expected to resign.
How much do the Partygate photos matter?How much do the Partygate photos matter?
Just when the prime minister might have hoped the bumpy moments of Partygate might be beginning to ease, these pictures emerge.Just when the prime minister might have hoped the bumpy moments of Partygate might be beginning to ease, these pictures emerge.
We already knew about the event in question.We already knew about the event in question.
But there's one thing knowing about a party, something else seeing pictures from it. Pictures of partying when the rest of the country was in lockdown.But there's one thing knowing about a party, something else seeing pictures from it. Pictures of partying when the rest of the country was in lockdown.
The big question, though, is how much does it matter?The big question, though, is how much does it matter?
How many minds will move, particularly among Conservative MPs who, remember, have the capacity to remove a party leader if they choose?How many minds will move, particularly among Conservative MPs who, remember, have the capacity to remove a party leader if they choose?
You can read Chris's full blog here.You can read Chris's full blog here.
Responding to the leaked pictures, Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said the PM had "demeaned his office" and that "the British people deserve better". The prime minister and the Met are under fresh scrutiny after ITV News published four new photographs on Monday which it says were taken at the leaving do for Mr Johnson's communications chief, Lee Cain on 13 November 2020.
The peer and former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, said the prime minister's position was untenable, while veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said the new images were "damning" and suggested Mr Johnson should quit. Mr Johnson is pictured toasting colleagues while standing by a table laden with wine bottles, wine glasses, food and other drinks.
But Conservative backbench MP Sir Desmond Swayne said he believed it was a "work do", adding "that's what people do at work". A second coronavirus lockdown was in place in England at the time the photographs were taken, with indoor gatherings of two or more people banned, except if "reasonably necessary" for work purposes.
He told BBC Newsnight: "Now I understand entirely the public anguish at a time when they were locked down and they were not supposed to be together, but there clearly was a distinction between the workplace - where people work together and are effectively in a bubble - and what was taking place outside." Allegations about gatherings held in Downing Street and Whitehall throughout the pandemic led to a Metropolitan Police investigation into 12 events.
A No 10 spokeswoman said the prime minister would address parliament "in full" after senior civil servant Sue Gray published her report into the gatherings "in the coming days". The inquiry concluded last week, with a total of 126 fixed penalty notices being issued to 83 individuals for parties held over eight separate dates.
Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak all received one fine each for attending a birthday party thrown in the PM's honour in June 2020.
But No 10 confirmed the PM was not facing any additional fines from the police.
The emergence of the photographs has sparked fresh claims from opposition MPs and others that Mr Johnson knowingly misled Parliament when he previously told them no Covid rules had been broken in Downing Street.
On 8 December 2021, Labour MP Catherine West asked Mr Johnson in the Commons if a party had taken place in Downing Street on 13 November 2020 - though it is not clear if she was referring to the event photographed.
The PM replied: "No, but I'm sure whatever happened the guidance was followed and all the rules were followed at all times."
The prime minister faces a probe by the Commons' Privileges Committee about whether he lied to MPs. Under government guidelines, ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament are expected to resign.
MPs are also awaiting the outcome of an investigation by Durham Police into a gathering in the city on 30 April 2021 attended by Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy Ms Rayner.MPs are also awaiting the outcome of an investigation by Durham Police into a gathering in the city on 30 April 2021 attended by Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy Ms Rayner.
Sir Keir has said he will resign if he is fined for attending the event.Sir Keir has said he will resign if he is fined for attending the event.
Meanwhile, questioned about its decision making, the Met has declined to explain why the prime minister was not fined over the leaving party.Meanwhile, questioned about its decision making, the Met has declined to explain why the prime minister was not fined over the leaving party.
The Liberal Democrats have written to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, urging it to investigate the Met's probe into events in No 10 and Whitehall during lockdown.The Liberal Democrats have written to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, urging it to investigate the Met's probe into events in No 10 and Whitehall during lockdown.
The party's deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: "If anyone else had been pictured at a party like this during lockdown, surely this would have been enough evidence for them to be fined. The party's deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: "If anyone else had been pictured at a party like this during lockdown, surely this would have been enough evidence for them to be fined."
"It does seem that there has been one rule for the prime minister and another for everyone else." The Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he though the police should "explain why they have reached their conclusions and provide that clarity".
A No 10 spokeswoman said the Cabinet Office and the police had been given access to information, including photographs.A No 10 spokeswoman said the Cabinet Office and the police had been given access to information, including photographs.