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Boris Johnson accused of lockdown party 'lies' as new photos emerge

Wales Online logo Wales Online 24/05/2022 Gavin Cordon, PA & Nick Wood
Prime Minister Boris Johnson © AP/PA photowire service Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is facing fresh accusations he lied to Parliament after photographs emerged of him raising a glass at a Downing Street leaving party during lockdown. The images, obtained by ITV News, were taken at an event for departing communications chief Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, just days after Mr Johnson had ordered a second national lockdown in England.

Asked last December in the Commons whether there had been a party in No 10 on that date, the Prime Minister said “no” and added he was sure the rules were followed at all times. Labour said there was now “no doubt” that Mr Johnson had “lied” to MPs.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police is facing questions as to why Mr Johnson was not fined in relation to the event when photographs showed him, drink in hand, alongside a table strewn with food and wine bottles. There were at least eight other people in the room at a time when people were banned from social mixing, other than to meet one person outside, and at least one individual has received a fixed penalty notice in relation to an event on that date.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper has written to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) calling for it to examine the Met’s Operation Hillman inquiry into events in No 10 and Whitehall. The latest disclosures come as Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who investigated lockdown breaches in Whitehall, is preparing to publish her final report.


Video: Boris Johnson accused of lying to MPs over images showing him drinking at leaving do (The Independent)

Supporters of the Prime Minister have been growing in confidence that he can survive calls for his resignation after receiving just one fine over a gathering at the Cabinet Office for his 56th birthday. But there is still concern at Westminster that his position could come under renewed pressure if, as many expect, Ms Gray is highly critical of the culture in No 10 and Whitehall which resulted in repeated violations of the rules.

There was no immediate comment from No 10. In the short term, Mr Johnson’s fate will lie with Tory MPs who will have to decide whether Ms Gray’s findings are sufficiently serious to warrant a push to oust him as leader.

On Monday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross demanded the Prime Minister explain why he believed his behaviour was “acceptable” when most people would think the pictures published by ITV News were “unjustifiable and wrong”. Veteran Conservative backbench MP Sir Roger Gale, a long-standing critic of Mr Johnson, said it was clear that he should go.

“It’s absolutely clear that there was a party, that he attended it, that he was raising a glass to toast one of his colleagues. And therefore, he misled us from the despatch box. And, honourably, there is one answer,” he told Times Radio.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs. The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”

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