A second BBC video rounding up the evidence over allegations that Downing Street organised a Christmas party while Covid restrictions were in place last year has gone viral.
Journalist, Ros Atkins came with the receipts once again, one week on from his original post laying out what the rules were at the time the party is said to have occurred (December 18), it received over 36,000 likes and 15,000 retweets.
Since then, government and cabinet members have responded to the allegations - which have been included in this latest report.
In the tweet, Atkins wrote: “We’re a week on from learning about the Christmas party at No.10 last December. We’ve looked at all the different government responses to the reports and how they compare with what we know about the event.”
“Last December, there was a Christmas party at Number 10,” Atkins said and one week on since we learned about it, the prime minister’s spokesman told the BBC: “There was not a party.”
“I don’t need to get into the positions we’ve taken. It’s simply a statement of fact,” the spokesman added.
“But this isn’t simple. Ever since The Daily Mirror broke the story, the government’s been trying to explain that what happened was within the rules and that it wasn’t a party - without offering any evidence to back up either claim,” Atkins explained.
A clip of Johnson in the House of Commons last Wednesday (December 1) is then played where he says: “All guidance was followed completely during Number 10 [sic].”
This was then followed by a clip of the vaccines minister, Maggie Throup on a Question Time panel last Thursday (December 2) in which she said: “I’ve been reassured that all guidance was carefully followed as it continually is.”
“Whatever the event was, then the guidance was followed.”
“So there was an event?”
@maggie_erewash is pressed to… https://t.co/CAT6skI6Vi
— BBC Question Time (@BBC Question Time)
Atkins said there was “no evidence was offered to justify that reassurance,” before noting that the Justice Secretary and deputy prime minister Dominic Raab made a comment on the matter during an interview on The Andrew Marr Show.
When asked by Marr if Christmas parties were allowed last year, Raab replied: “Generally no.” A response that is backed up by BBC Reality Check who confirms “Any party at Downing Street would have breached the government’s guidelines at the time.”
Raab noted that this meaning was clear: “Of course, if there was a formal party held, of course, that was clearly contrary to the guidance was just cited.”
Following this comment, Atkins highlighted the fact there was no distinction between a formal and informal party, pointing to the Health Protection Regulations 2020 which say: “No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in any indoor space.” While government guidance at the time said: “You must not have a Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity.”
But in the case of what’s alleged to have happened at Downing Street, Raab said: “If something unsubstantiated from anonymous sources actually materialised then, of course, it would be wrong.”
According to the BBC, food and drink was laid on for the press office and the Number 10 events team and party games were played.
Atkin noted that despite these people working closely with the government in Number 10, yet the government were questioning “if something we know that happened, had happened.”
Crime and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse told BBC Breakfast on Monday (December 6th): “I don’t even know if an event took place, but if it did no rules were broken.”
As well the party on December 18, there have also been multiple reports of an earlier party on November 27, with The Guardian reporting it was a leaving party for former aid to Dominic Cummings, Cleo Watson while the UK was supposed be in national lockdown.
Meanwhile, Atkins noted at the time, police were looking for rulebreakers and mentioned the following tweet about officers shutting down a wedding with 40 guests on December 17 last year.
Officers have shut down a wedding where 40 people were in attendance.
Holding large gatherings could be the diffe… https://t.co/UtZ6Hqc2jo
Atkins reported that the Met Police made a statement and said: “It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations.” But they did also say that they will “consider the correspondence received.”
Johnson joined an early morning drug raid in Liverpool yesterday (December 6) in line with the government announcing a new strategy to address the problems of drug use.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “On this business that’s in the media constantly, all I can say is; no covid rules were broken and there you go.”
“And so, once again, we have Mr Johnson telling us rules weren’t broken in Downing Street while offering no explanation about how this can be true and now we have Mr Johnson’s spokesperson saying that party didn’t happen when - by all other accounts - it did.”
Since posting a video update on the story, Akins’ coverage has received thousands of likes and retweets, with people praising the journalist’s reporting while also criticising the government.
Ros Atkins absolutely OWNING our shambolic government over its illegal parties. https://t.co/kkvzbM7ZNU