Politics

Partygate Daily Telegraph: Boris Johnson faces fresh claims over No 10 lockdown parties

Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure over lockdown parties in Downing Street, amid reports he attended more gatherings under investigation by the police.

The Daily Telegraph reported that he was seen heading up to his flat on the night of a gathering there which the Met is investigating.

The Prime Minister is also said to have spoken at two more leaving dos which are the subject of Scotland Yard inquiries.

The reports are likely to fuel claims by opposition parties that Mr Johnson was well aware of the so-called “party culture” in Downing Street and parts of Whitehall at that time.

Dominic CummingsDominic Cummings has accused Boris Johnson of lying (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In her “update” on Monday, Sue Gray, the senior official who has been investigating the allegations, disclosed there were 12 events between 2020 and 2021 that are currently being investigated by the police.

She was unable to publish her full findings because of the police inquiries.

READ MORE: Plodding police help the ‘greased pig’ PM wriggle free again

The gathering in the Downing Street flat took place on November 13 2020 – the night Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, left No 10 amid the acrimonious fall-out of an internal power struggle.

On Monday, the Prime Minister repeatedly refused to say if he was there.

However in an online question and answer session, Mr Cummings said it was clear there was a party going on and he accused Mr Johnson of lying.

“I’ve talked to people who were in No 10 on 13/11 who could hear the party in No 10 after I’d left – the press office is below the flat,” he said.

Artist Kaya Mar with his latest painting in Whitehall Artist Kaya Mar with his latest painting in Whitehall (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“If cops talk to people there that night, there’ll be witnesses who say ‘we could all hear a party with Abba playing’.”

The Telegraph also said a gathering on December 17 2020 for an official who was leaving was for Captain Steve Higham, then one of Mr Johnson’s private secretaries, who advised on defence and national security issues.

The Prime Minister was reported to have attended the event and to have given a speech.

He was also reported by both the Telegraph and the Guardian to have been present at a leaving do for two No 10 private secretaries on January 14 2021.

One of the officials was said to be a senior policy adviser who was moving to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Broxbourne MP Sir Charles WalkeSir Charles Walker has said he would applaud Boris Johnson if he stood aside (House of Commons/PA)

Again, Mr Johnson was reported to have made a speech thanking the official for their work while some guests drank prosecco.

The two papers also said that another event under investigation in the Cabinet Office on June 18 2020 was for Hannah Young, a senior official who was leaving No 10 to become deputy consul general in New York.

Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary who organised the notorious “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden, was said to have been present.

READ MORE: Cartoon — Boris Johnson’s visit to Ukraine

Downing Street said it could not comment on the latest reports due to the ongoing police investigation.

Earlier Sir Charles Walker, the vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, became the latest senior figure to call on the Prime Minister to consider his position.

He told Channel 4 News: “I think there’s so much grief and pain out there that if he was to say, ‘Look, I understand that I asked so much of the country and it needs to come to terms with that grief and pain and start the process of healing and if it could do that better without me in Number 10 then I shall stand aside’, that would show great courage on behalf of the Prime Minister.

“I would applaud him for doing that, but that is his decision.”

Another Tory backbencher, Peter Aldous, the MP for Waveney, said he had submitted a letter to the chairman of the 1922, Sir Graham Brady, calling for a vote of no confidence in the leader.

However Communities Secretary Michael Gove supported the Prime Minister, saying this was not the time for a leadership contest.

“There’s not going to be a leadership contest. We don’t want one, we don’t need one,” he told the BBC.

Meanwhile Mr Johnson committed to publishing “everything that we can” from the full Sue Gray inquiry.

The Prime Minister went further on Tuesday, to promise a fuller publication of the senior civil servant’s investigation once the Metropolitan Police probe has concluded.

There has been confusion over the extent of any subsequent report after Mr Johnson refused to accept the demands of Tory MPs and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a Commons statement.

Asked at a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, whether he would commit to publishing the full inquiry, including the 300-plus images handed to investigators, the Prime Minister said: “Yes, of course we’ll publish everything that we can as soon as the process has been completed, as I said yesterday.”

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