Who is Allegra Stratton, why has she resigned and who else was in that video?

Who is Allegra Stratton, why has she resigned and who else was in that video?

On Wednesday, Allegra Stratton quit her role as a government adviser following controversial comments that were caught on camera about an alleged Downing Street Christmas party.

The former Guardian, ITV and BBC journalist had been set to become the face of televised government briefings last December.

Instead, Stratton became the government’s spokeswoman for November’s COP26 climate change conference, earning between £125,000 and £129,999 a year.

She announced her resignation outside her home on Wednesday with an emotional speech, offering “profound apologies” and saying she would “regret those remarks for the rest of my days.”

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Who is Allegra Stratton?

Daughter of a translator and a textile artist, Allegra Stratton grew up in west London. Before studying archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge University, she attended state and private schools.

Peers say she aspired to be a journalist from a young age.

She went on to secure a job as a BBC producer before taking on a role as political correspondent at The Guardian.

While travelling the Middle East in her mid-20s, she published a book titled Muhajababes. It delved into women of a similar age to herself who struggled to find jobs.

Married to James Forsyth, political editor of the Spectator magazine, Stratton became BBC Newsnight’s political editor in 2011 following Michael Crick’s resignation.

In 2015, she left for ITV as national editor, where she also co-presented the political talk show Peston on Sunday during her time.

In April 2020, Stratton left broadcasting to become a “Johnson Tory” and work for the government.

After a few months as the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s director of strategic communications, she moved to 10 Downing Street as press secretary, where she was set to become the public face of Downing Street in televised press briefings.

In April, Stratton was moved to become the spokeswoman for Cop26 President Alok Sharma before she could front a single briefing and remained on the payroll as a special adviser.

Why did she resign?

A clip, recorded just days after the alleged party, resurfaced earlier in the week. It shows Stratton – who was then the prime minister’s press secretary –in a mock TV briefing rehearsing how to take questions from journalists with No 10 colleagues.

The footage, said to have been recorded on December 22 last year, sees Stratton and her colleagues talking about a supposedly “fictional” Downing Street party on “Friday”.

Her colleague, Downing Street special adviser Ed Oldfield, is seen asking whether Boris Johnson could “condone having a cheese and wine party” in Downing Street.

Stratton fumbles and laughs, saying: “Is cheese and wine all right?”

She then adds: “It was a business meeting... and it was not socially distanced.”

The video emerged questions over whether Downing Street staff held a Christmas party in No 10 on December 18 when London was under tier 3 restrictions explicitly banning work Christmas lunches and parties where they are “a primarily social activity”.

Who else was in the video?

Special adviser Ed Oldfield was the other counterpart in the clip.

Oldfield played the role of a journalist during the mock press conference and asked Stratton about a “Downing Street party on Friday night”.

Friday would have been four days earlier on December 18, giving increased weight to reports of the allegedly rule-breaking party first reported by the Daily Mirror.

Oldfield became Johnson’s special adviser in July 2020 to provide political advice to ministers. He also worked for the prime minister’s 2019 campaign to become a Conservative leader.

What did Stratton say in her resignation speech?

In the tearful statement on Wednesday, Stratton, 41, apologised for her comments and said she understood people’s “anger and frustration.”

“My remarks seemed to make light of the rules, rules that people were doing everything to obey,” she said.

“That was never my intention. I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days and I offer my profound apologies to all of you at home for them.”

“To all of you who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness and who struggled with your businesses, I am truly sorry and this afternoon I am offering my resignation to the Prime Minister.”

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