This is what Matt Hancock said the same day the new Partygate video was filmed

This is what Matt Hancock said the same day the new Partygate video was filmed

Related video: London to go into highest level tier 3 restrictions, Matt Hancock announces


Previously, visual evidence of Covid lockdown-breaking parties attended by high-profile Conservatives was limited to a string of damning photographs, but now the Mirror has obtained and published the first video of the ongoing Partygate scandal.

On Saturday, the paper shared footage of a Christmas party held at Conservative Party headquarters (CCHQ) on 14 December, set up by the campaign team of the party’s 2021 candidate for mayor of London, Shaun Bailey.

Mr Bailey went on to lose the mayoral election to Labour’s Sadiq Khan, resign from his role as chair of the police and crime committee in the London Assembly, and be made a lord in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.

The Mirror reports Mr Bailey left the party prior to this video being filmed.

In the clip, two employees can be seen twirling and dancing to music, before almost colliding with a buffet table.

A voice can be heard laughing and implying the filming is OK “as long as we don’t stream that we’re like, bending the rules”.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

One of the individuals caught on camera in the clip is that of aide Ben Mallet – also mentioned in Mr Johnson’s honours list which saw him awarded an OBE.

As with every other instance of reported Covid law-breaking to date, the footage has sparked widespread anger and fury amongst the general public:

It’s infuriated others because on the day of the party itself, 14 December, then health secretary Matt Hancock painted a pretty bleak picture of the ongoing pandemic at the day’s Covid press conference.

Appearing alongside the former chief medical officer for England (Chris Whitty) and ex-London regional director for Public Health England (Professor Kevin Fenton), Mr Hancock said the news on the virus’s spread was “not good”.

“The latest number of cases is rising once more, and we’ve seen an increase of 14 per cent in the last week. The number of patients admitted to hospital across the UK has risen again too.

“The average number of new cases reported each day is 18,023, which is up on last week, and today, there are 16,531 Covid patients in hospitals across the UK, which is also up,” he said.

The West Suffolk MP, who resigned as a minister after being seen kissing an aide in his office while Covid restrictions were in place, also confirmed the identification of a new variant of coronavirus – later named B. or the ‘alpha’ variant.

He went on to announce that as a result of “sharp and exponential rises” in cases in London, south and west Sussex and south Hertfordshire, these areas would move into tier three restrictions on 16 December – two days later.

At the time, tier three restrictions meant all pubs, cafes and restaurants had to shut (save for takeaway and delivery), and that meeting friends and family outside of a person’s household was limited to a handful of public outdoor spaces, such as parks.

Mr Hancock added: “To control this deadly disease while the vaccine is being rolled out, we all have a role to play. Everyone should minimise their social contact, because that’s how we can control the spread of this disease.

“This rise in transmission, as well as this new variant of Covid, should be a warning to us all that even after such a difficult year, we must stay vigilant.

“We should never lose sight of each of our own roles on this, our personal responsibility – each and every one of us – to respect the rules where you are, don’t ease up on the simple things that keep us safe, like hands, face and space, the social distancing we need, and to come forward and get a test.

“This isn’t over yet. Please play your part and do all you can to stop the spread of this disease.”

After images emerged of the Christmas party at CCHQ, Mr Bailey tweeted saying it was a “serious error of judgement” and “I regret it wholeheartedly”.

CCHQ itself said “formal disciplinary action” was taken against four members of staff, who were seconded to Mr Bailey’s mayoral campaign team, over the “unauthorised” gathering.

Following the publication of the video, a Shaun Bailey campaign spokesperson told the Mirror: “This is an old story. We repeatedly apologised for this event at the time.

“It was subject to a nearly year-long police investigation. The matter is now closed.”

Except, that may not be the case in the eyes of the Metropolitan Police, which said it will assess the video to see “whether it could be material to an inquiry”.

The force previously concluded in November that it would not take any action over the gathering as “a photo by itself is not sufficient evidence on which to assess that an offence had been committed”.

“The investigation reviewed all the material thoroughly and after careful consideration, it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to disprove the version of events provided by attendees to a standard that would meet the threshold required," the Met said.

"As a result, a decision was made that no further action should be taken,” it said at the time.

Elsewhere, Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, appeared on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg and said he doesn’t think that Mr Bailey and Mr Mallett should be blocked from receiving their honours as a result of the footage.

He said: “The decision to confer honours on people was one that was made by Boris Johnson as an outgoing prime minister. Outgoing prime ministers have that right.

“Whether or not they should is a matter of legitimate public debate, but they do at the moment.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has said the video shows Tories “openly mocked the rules the British people followed”, while the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper, said it should make ministers “sick to their stomachs”.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)