'It's not a party, it's colleagues getting together': Tory MPs deny dinner ...
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“Off to another party, are we?”

That’s what bereaved families asked Conservative politicians who attended a swish dinner held by prime minister Boris Johnson at a luxury central London hotel on Tuesday night.

Dozens of grief-stricken families who lost loved ones during Covid lined up outside the entrance to boo guests as they arrived in cars and on foot.

It comes as the Metropolitan Police issued the first 20 Partygate fines.

Tuesday also marked the anniversary of when the first heart was drawn on the National Covid Memorial Wall - a site of remembrance many would like to see being kept permanently.

Outside the Park Plaza near Westminster Bridge shortly before 8pm on Tuesday, shouts of “shame on you” and “off to another party are we?” were directed at Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg as they turned up to the venue, where a penthouse costs up to £653 a night.

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Speaking to ITV outside the hotel, MP Michael Fabricant raved that “we’re going to have a lot of fun”.

"It all felt pretty familiar: once again politicians are inside drinking while bereaved families are left out in the cold,” Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, told Indy100.

“It’s one year to the day since the first heart was painted on the National Covid Memorial Wall, and tonight we watched all of these Conservative MPs walk past us into a hotel where they’re apparently meant to ‘reset’ their relationship after the Partygate scandal.

“They would have done better to spend some time at the memorial wall with families to understand how much pain their rule-breaking has caused for so many of us who followed the rules and couldn’t see our loved ones.

“It beggars belief that they seem content to pretend nothing's happened and move on."

June Newbon, who lost her husband to the virus, branded the evening “disgusting” in light of the Met’s conclusion that it believes laws were broken at the heart of Government.

She said holding a lavish dinner was especially inappropriate given the cost-of-living crisis hitting millions of people and the war in Ukraine.

“I think it’s disgusting,” she told the PA news agency outside the hotel.

“No one else can afford to do this given the prices going up, and the war as well.”

Newbon and her daughter Ellie said Conservative politicians would be better placed attending the candlelit procession to mark the first anniversary of the National Covid Memorial Wall, a planned event near the hotel on Westminster Bridge.

Hundreds of bereaved relatives turned up to the walk on Tuesday to commemorate their loved ones and call for the mural to be made permanent.

“I think someone should make their presence known down at the bridge today instead,” Ms Newbon said.

“I think that’s the respect they owe us,” Miss Newbon added.

“We haven’t had an apology from Boris and I don’t feel we’re going to have one tonight.”

Fran Hall, a Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice spokesperson, told Indy100 that last year, no one could have anticipated that the memorial wall would become “the iconic image it has, illustrating the scale of the loss we have suffered as a nation and resonating across the globe.”

Hall said the wall has become a tangible symbol of the losses families the world over have suffered.

She said: “The government must do the right thing and support us in our efforts to have the wall made a permanent memorial, a place of reflection and contemplation and remembrance that will stand as a reminder of the horror and grief so many have endured.”

Downing Street has denied Mr Johnson misled Parliament over the goings-on in Whitehall during the pandemic.

There was a heavy police presence surrounding the hotel and the prime minister is thought to have gained access to the building through a different entrance.

During the same- "gathering" last night, it’s been reported that Johnson joked about Putin and Partygate.

According to Politico, he said: “One of reasons that Putin is deluded and isolated is because he has no cabinet of equals, no 1922 committee and nobody to write 54 letters to Sir Graham Brady.”

How many letters it is exactly Sir Graham has received remains to be seen, but perhaps we'll find out soon...

Sign the petition to make the National Covid Memorial Wall permanent on Change.org.

Indy100 has contacted the Conservative Party for comment.

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