A TORY MP attended a "Christmas party" with 27 guests at a London club – but has claimed it was a business meeting.
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons defence committee, gave a speech at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly, after saying Christmas gatherings would spark a third wage of coronavirus.
The Iraq Britain Business Council billed the event as its "Christmas Party" in an online diary entry, which has now been deleted, according to the Daily Mail.
Mr Ellwood stressed that it was a "business meeting", allowed in the hours before London was plunged into Tier 3.
He said: "I would not be attending a Christmas party, it was a business meeting.
"I went there to meet business people and that is what it was. The club went to extreme lengths so that as a business function it was absolutely Covid-compliant."
He said the venue was "absolutely Covid-compliant".
An entry on the IBBC's website says it was a "business dinner" with guests including Mr Ellwood and a delegation from the Iraqi Embassy.
And it added: "Working with the venue, this event was fully covid compliant."
Speaking earlier this week, Mr Ellwood suggestions Christmas relaxation of rules should be cancelled to avoid a third wave of the virus.
He said: "Letting down our guard for five days during Christmas could be very dangerous indeed."
The dinner was co-hosted by its Baroness Nicholson who is also Boris Johnson's trade envoy for Iraq.
Mr Ellwood said there were 27 people at the event, but said "they all followed the guidance".
He added: "It is absolutely right that everybody should follow the rules. The Club confirm that the rules were not broken."
The Tory MP denied claims there were Christmas crackers at the event, or that people were served turkey for the meal.
He said: "There was a proper formal address and then I was introduced to business people. It was a proper business function."
When asked about Mr Ellwood's attendance at the dinner, Home Secretary Priti Patel said "having dinner outside of the rules with a large number of people is a breach" of coronavirus restrictions.
The IBBC has since removed the description of the event as a Christmas party.
The Cavalry and Guards Club said: "We do not comment on any private parties held here at the club."
The Department for International Trade declined to comment on Baroness Nicholson’s attendance.
According to Government guidance for Tier 2 areas, gatherings for "work purposes" are "only allowed where they are reasonably necessary."
It adds: "Business events are permitted but capacity should be restricted."
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