Indoor PM birthday event was held during lockdown, says No 10on January 24, 2022 at 7:31 pm

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Downing Street admits staff gathered to wish Boris Johnson well, following a report from ITV News.

Boris Johnson

Image source, Reuters

Downing Street has admitted that staff gathered inside No 10 to celebrate Boris Johnson’s birthday when the first Covid lockdown was still in place.

ITV News reports up to 30 people attended the June 2020 event, sang Happy Birthday and were served cake.

No 10 said staff had “gathered briefly” to “wish the prime minister a happy birthday”, adding that he had been there “for less than 10 minutes”.

Rules at the time banned most indoor gatherings of more than two people.

ITV News said the birthday event had taken place in the Cabinet Room just after 2pm on 19 June 2020, adding that it had been a surprise for Mr Johnson after he returned from an official trip to a school in Hertfordshire.

It also reported that family and friends had been hosted in the prime minister’s residence that evening.

But a No 10 spokesperson said: “This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time the prime minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”

Under the Covid restrictions at the time, up to six people could gather outside, in a socially distanced manner.

But gatherings inside of two or more people were still not permitted indoors, except for certain reasons such as work or education.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “A group of staff working in No 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the prime minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than 10 minutes.”

The BBC has learned that Sue Gray, the senior civil servant compiling a report into gatherings on government premises during Covid restrictions, already knew about the 19 June event.

Her findings are expected to be published later this week.

‘Mopping up sleaze’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “This is yet more evidence that we have got a prime minister who believes that the rules that he made don’t apply to him.

“And so we have got a prime minister and a government who spend their whole time mopping up sleaze and deceit.”

Sir Keir also repeated his call for Mr Johnson to resign.

And Jo Goodman, co-founder of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, did the same, saying of 20 June 2020: “It was the day before what would have been my dad’s 73rd birthday, shortly after he had passed away from Covid-19.

“It was a horrible time for my family, but we stuck to the rules, not even being able to hug to comfort each other.”

She added it was “completely sickening” that No 10 staff had gathered indoors to eat cake for the PM’s birthday, saying: “While dozens sang Happy Birthday to him, families couldn’t even sing in memory at their loved ones’ funerals.”

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