Downing Street parties timeline as first fines issued

The Metropolitan Police said 20 fixed penalty notices will be referred to the ACRO Criminal Records Office.

29 March 2022

The first batch of fines has been announced for breaches of Covid-19 rules following allegations of people attending lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Scotland Yard said 20 fixed penalty notices will be referred to the ACRO Criminal Records Office, which will be responsible for issuing the fines.

The Metropolitan Police have been investigating at least 12 events, including as many as seven which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have attended.

On March 21, the force said more than 100 questionnaires had been sent out, asking the recipients about their participation in the alleged gatherings.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray published her interim report into alleged rule-breaking at the top of Government
Senior civil servant Sue Gray published her interim report into alleged rule-breaking at the top of Government (Gov.uk/PA)

The original 12 parties being investigated by the Metropolitan Police are:

– May 20 2020: Bring Your Own Booze party:

A leaked email from the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, showed No 10 staff were invited to “bring your own booze” to an event in the Downing Street garden.

Mr Johnson has admitted he was there for 25 minutes, but said he thought it was a “work event” to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

– June 18 2020: Cabinet Office leaving do:

Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s interim report said a gathering in the 70 Whitehall building was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.

The event had not previously been disclosed but The Telegraph said the official in question is former home affairs policy adviser Hannah Young, who left Downing Street to take up the role of deputy consul general in New York.

The newspaper said it understood about 20 people attended, with alcohol consumed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have attended as many as seven events (Daniel Leal/PA)

– June 19 2020: Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday:

Downing Street has admitted staff “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for the Prime Minister organised by his now wife Carrie.

The PA news agency was told that Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of the Downing Street flat, briefly attended while undertaking work there.

However, No 10 has denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.

– November 13 2020: Downing Street flat do:

Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and her husband live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s wife called the claim “total nonsense”.

There is said to have been a party in the PM's official residence the night Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, left No 10
There is said to have been a party in the PM’s official residence the night Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, left No 10 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But reports have since suggested that the Prime Minister was seen heading up to the flat on the night in question, with the Mail On Sunday stating that Abba songs, including The Winner Takes It All, were heard coming from the residence.

Mr Cummings, former de facto chief-of-staff at No 10, has alleged there are photographs of parties held at the flat during lockdown and said he has spoken to people who heard music coming from the Johnsons’ accommodation on the night he left Downing Street.

– November 13 2020: Leaving party for senior aide:

According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.

– December 17 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’:

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case removed himself from the inquiry into Whitehall parties – to be replaced by Ms Gray – after reports emerged of a gathering in the Cabinet Office.

It was reported that the do had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was noted in digital calendars as “Christmas party!” and included an online quiz.

The Cabinet Office said Mr Case played no part in the event “but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own”.

– December 17 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head:

The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce, Kate Josephs, said she was “truly sorry” over leaving drinks held in the Cabinet Office.

– December 17 2020: No 10 leaving do:

A leaving do was held for a departing Downing Street official.

The Telegraph reported that the staff member in question was Captain Steve Higham, then one of Mr Johnson’s private secretaries, who advised on defence and national security issues.

The Mirror, which first reported the event before the police investigation began, said Mr Johnson was only there “for a few minutes”.

Capt Higham became Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in July 2021.

– December 18 2020: Downing Street Christmas party:

Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, resigned after a video emerged of her joking about a “fictional party” at a mock press conference.

– January 14 2021: More Downing Street leaving drinks:

A gathering was held in No 10 to mark the departure of two private secretaries.

Reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the leaving event, which was for a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, according to The Telegraph.

The other official’s identity is so far unknown.

– April 16 2021: Two leaving dos on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral:

The night before the Queen sat alone at the funeral of her husband of more than 70 years, in compliance with Covid rules at the time, two leaving dos were reportedly held in No 10.

Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after reported details emerged of boozy drinks parties, including one for outgoing communications director James Slack.

– Other events possibly subject to police investigation:

– December 15 2020: Online Christmas quiz in No 10:

Police initially said they did not intend to investigate the quiz, during which the Prime Minister appeared on contestants’ screens.

However they later said they would review the decision after a photograph emerged of Mr Johnson alongside an open bottle of sparkling wine.

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