Aides to the Prime Minister have been in touch with the Cabinet Office over claims of “bring your own wine” organizing a Downing Street drink party during the first lockdown.
Following a political call from officials to investigate the allegations relating to May 2020, the Metropolitan Police confirmed it is liaising with the Whitehall Department on the latest claims.
As ITV reports, the prime minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street employees asking them to “bring your own wine” for an evening gathering.
Mr Reynolds said he should “make the most of the beautiful weather”, despite England’s strict coronavirus restrictions banning social gathering when messages are sent to groups.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of the extensive reporting relating to alleged breaches of health safety regulations on Downing Street on 20 May 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.”
Several reports have suggested that the prime minister attended the event with his wife, Carrie Johnson.
The Conservative Party leader on Monday brushed aside questions about whether he had attended the evening gathering, which was reportedly organized by Mr Reynolds.
If the police do not investigate these allegations thoroughly, it will be absolutely double standards.
The Liberal Democrats said that if the rules were found to be broken “responsible people should face the full force of the law.”
The party’s home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: “This garden party looks like a clear violation of lockdown rules at a time when the public was being ordered to stay at home.
“Boris Johnson himself said a few days after this party that the police should take steps to stop people from outside gatherings.
“It will be a complete double standard if the police do not investigate these allegations thoroughly.”
The Metropolitan Police tweeted on the day that the supposedly “bring your own wine” event took place, telling people they can picnic, exercise or play outside, provided you’re “on your own, those Be with the people you live with”, or just you and another person”.
The then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden used the Downing Street press conference that day to remind the public that they “may meet a person outside their home in an outdoor, public place, provided that you stay two meters away”.
Number 10 said it would not comment on the allegations while Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, investigated multiple allegations of rule-breaking incidents in Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic.
Downing Street denied reports that Mr Reynolds was to be transferred to another position following claims.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that he is staying in his current role.
“The Prime Minister has full faith in his team. There is no change in that post,” he told reporters on Monday morning.
The spokesman also declined to heed reports that Mr Johnson had attended the event.
“An independent process is underway to look into this under the leadership of Sue Grey, and while it is in place, I cannot comment further.”
Ms Grey, a Cabinet Office official, has expanded her investigation to look into a garden gathering that took place five days earlier, as well as to the claims of 20 May 2020, one showing the prime minister and staff. It was revealed from the leaked picture. sat around a table with cheese and wine.
Labor deputy leader Angela Renner urged Ms Gray to confirm that Mr Reynolds’ leaked email should be part of her investigation.
Ms Rainer told ITV News: “It’s horrifying and I think many people who see the evidence now will not only think that Boris Johnson’s lies are catching up with him, but will see it as absolutely disgusting. When he was actually asked to follow the rules, Boris Johnson and No. 10 were breaking the rules.
“It’s shameful and he should be ashamed.”
She said police should take steps to investigate whether Ms Gray’s investigation found coronavirus rules were broken by ministers or government employees.
Human rights lawyer Adam Wagner, who explains the coronavirus rules on Twitter to the public, said the alleged incident “is unlikely to be legal for those in attendance”.