Boris and Carrie 'attended drinks party of 40 people during lockdown'

Boris and Carrie Johnson ‘attended a drinks party of 40 people in the No 10 garden during lockdown’ after PM’s chief mandarin ‘sent ‘bring your own bottle’ email invitation’

  • Downing St did not immediately deny report in Sunday Times alleging PM attended the potentially rule-breaking event with wife Carrie in May 2020
  • The newspaper cited three sources stating Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, emailed officials with an invite adding ‘BYOB’, meaning bring your own bottle, or booze
  • Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating May 20 event as part of inquiry into numerous allegations of rule-breaking events held in No 10 during pandemic
  • Ms Gray also expanded probe to May 15 2020 garden gathering revealed by leaked photo showing PM and staff sitting around cheese and wine

Boris Johnson stands accused of personally attending a drinks party in the garden of No 10 during the first lockdown.

Downing Street did not immediately deny a report in the Sunday Times alleging that the Prime Minister attended the potentially rule-breaking event with wife Carrie in May 2020.

The newspaper cited three sources stating Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, emailed officials with an invite adding ‘BYOB’, meaning bring your own bottle, or booze.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating the May 20 event as part of her inquiry into numerous allegations of rule-breaking events being held in No 10 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson allegedly attended a drinks party in the garden of No 10 during the first lockdown with his wife Carrie (pictured together at the Conservative Party Conference at the end of last year)

Mr Johnson’s is principal private secretary Martin Reynolds (left) allegedly sent a ‘bring your own bottle’ email invitation

Allegations of that gathering, said to have been attended by 40 people, emerged this week when Dominic Cummings said he had warned at the time the ‘socially distanced drinks’ would likely be against the rules and ‘should not happen’.

But the front page report suggesting Mr Johnson himself was present will add to the seriousness of the claims.

The Prime Minister imposed England’s first lockdown to combat Covid-19 in March 2020 and it was not until June 1 that groups of up to six people were allowed to meet outdoors.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: ‘The culture of total disregard for the rules seems to have been embedding into life in Downing Street from the very start of the pandemic.

‘When much of the country was struggling with empty shelves and a total lockdown with no meeting with others allowed, it seems No 10 were hosting parties from the very start.

‘Boris Johnson and his team are taking the country for fools. We need the report from Sue Gray’s independent investigation as soon as possible and Boris Johnson needs to face the consequences of his actions.’

Ms Gray, a senior Cabinet Office official, also expanded her investigation to the May 15 2020 garden gathering revealed by a leaked photo showing the Prime Minister and staff sitting around cheese and wine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson, with their daughter Romy and dog Dilyn

Mr Cummings, who was present in the picture, insisted in a blog post on Friday that there was nothing ‘illegal or unethical’ about that day, which he insisted was a staff meeting.

But the Vote Leave veteran, who departed as the chief adviser in Downing Street in November 2020, wrote: ‘On Wednesday 20 May, the week after this photo, a senior No 10 official invited people to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the garden.’

Mr Cummings said he and at least one other special adviser ‘said that this seemed to be against the rules and should not happen’, adding that he issued the warning ‘in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email’.

‘We were ignored. I was ill and went home to bed early that afternoon but am told this event definitely happened,’ he continued.

No 10 and a spokeswoman for Mrs Johnson have both been asked to comment on the latest claim.

Top mandarin who runs Boris Johnson’s private office lined up to be ‘fall guy’ for Partygate

By GLEN OWEN for the Mail on Sunday 

A top civil servant who runs Boris Johnson’s private office is being lined up to become the ‘fall guy’ for the No 10 Partygate row, senior sources have said.

Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, is expected to be moved after the Cabinet Office concludes its investigation into whether rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during Covid lockdowns. 

One option being explored is to hand Mr Reynolds a senior diplomatic role, possibly at ambassador level.

Mr Reynolds was pictured sitting with the Prime Minister and his then fiancee, Carrie Symonds, at a ‘cheese and wine’ party held in the Downing Street garden on May 15, 2020. 

Martin Reynolds (above), the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, is expected to be moved after the Cabinet Office concludes its investigation into whether rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during Covid lockdowns

Mr Reynolds was pictured sitting with the Prime Minister and his then fiancee, Carrie Symonds, at a ‘cheese and wine’ party held in the Downing Street garden on May 15, 2020. (Above, the PM and his wife last October)

It has also been reported that he sent an email invitation for a separate garden party five days later.

Dominic Cummings, the former No 10 senior adviser, revealed the party on Friday in a blog, and claimed he warned colleagues at the time that the gathering broke lockdown rules and should not have gone ahead.

He said he wrote the warning in an email that could be discovered by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who is investigating the allegations that parties were held.

On the day of the May 20 garden party, Oliver Dowden, then Culture Secretary, urged the public to meet only one other person outdoors and stick to social-distancing rules.

Ms Gray replaced Cabinet Secretary Simon Case in leading the Whitehall investigation after allegations emerged of staff meeting for drinks in his own office in Whitehall. 

In his blog, Dominic Cummings (above) wrote: ‘On Wednesday 20 May… a senior No 10 official invited people to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the garden,’ adding that he had emailed ‘that this seemed to be against the rules and should not happen… [it is] in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email’

On the day of the May 20 garden party, Oliver Dowden (pictured), then Culture Secretary, urged the public to meet only one other person outdoors and stick to social-distancing rules

Mr Johnson has always denied knowledge of any rule-breaking. 

A source said: ‘It had already been decided to move Martin, but the plan at the moment is to wait until the Gray report – which is bound to be critical – to help distract from other people who she might criticise.’

The email allegedly sent by Mr Reynolds inviting people to a party on May 20 is believed to have been wiped from No 10’s system. 

One source said it was an invitation to a ‘knees-up’, while another said it described an ‘informal get-together’, with officials encouraged to ‘bring your own booze’.

In his blog, Mr Cummings wrote: ‘On Wednesday 20 May… a senior No 10 official invited people to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the garden,’ adding that he had emailed ‘that this seemed to be against the rules and should not happen… [it is] in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email’.

Mr Cummings left Downing Street in November 2020 after a bitter power struggle with Mr Johnson’s future wife, Carrie.

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