Tory minister Paul Scully has done the media rounds for the government this morning and faced further questions about the scandal surrounding the alleged Christmas party at Downing Street that reportedly happened last December.

Scully, the minister for small business, was grilled by LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari on the issue, specifically when the MP used the word “gathering” rather than “party”. Ferrari asked Scully: “When does a gathering become a party?”

The 53-year-old MP for Sutton and Cheam replied: “I suppose party suggests...errm...and you see some of the graphics that go around with the coverage here with balloons and poppers and these type of thing.

“It suggests that there’s big invitations going out and lots of people coming in from out… from elsewhere and those kind of things.”

We’re sure he meant party poppers there and not the other type of poppers...

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When asked by Ferrari about other apparent government parties that happened last year, which is reportedly now at a total of seven, Scully said he did not know how many allegations there now were about parties or gatherings across Government departments during lockdown measures in late 2020.

In another interview, this time with Rick Edwards on BBC Radio 5 Live, Scully again tried to define the difference between a party and a “gathering”. This time he said: “In my workplace, I’ve got a panettone sitting on my desk, I have some drink, non-alcoholic, sitting around the place. Does that include a party?”

Edwards then asked him if he had any games around the place like Buckaroo? “No games,” replied Scully. “There is serious work going on in the department. Look, the point is you are speculating about a party, which suggests balloons and poppers.”

Again with the poppers... although the panettone does sound rather fancy.

However, while Scully was happy to appear on LBC, 5 Live and other broadcasters he decided to miss other appointments. PA reports that he was not prepared to face “the kind of interview” he may have encountered on BBC Radio 4, it has been suggested.

Justin Webb, presenting the Today programme on the radio station on Friday, said the Government had not offered a minister for an interview despite noting that Scully “toured the TV studios this morning”.

He said Scully was “was not prepared to come on the programme and face the kind of interview we might have conducted”.

Webb instead interviewed shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.

Following the interview, fellow presenter Nick Robinson said: “Some breaking news now, Paul Scully the business minister who chose not to do interviews on this programme but did them elsewhere, has declared: ‘It’s been a difficult week for the government’. He added: ‘I feel very comfortable about the prime minister’s integrity.’”

Additional reporting from PA.

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