Today
Tue 25 January 2022

Thousands of people lost their lives on the days that Government ministers, advisors and officials flouted lockdown rules, Sam Bright reports

Thousands of people died from COVID-19 on the days that Downing Street and other Government departments held lockdown-breaking parties, Byline Times can reveal.

A staggering 13 gatherings have now been exposed that were held during periods in 2020 when lockdown restrictions were in place. This includes, in recent days, revelations that Downing Street hosted a “bring your own booze” event on 20 May, during the first wave of infections.

268 people died of COVID-19 on 20 May 2020, when more than 100 Downing Street staff were invited to “socially distanced drinks” in the Number 10 garden. At the time, people across the country were banned from meeting more than one person outside who they didn’t live with.

Just five days after that gathering, the Prime Minister used a daily Coronavirus briefing to say that the police should intervene to stop outdoor gatherings.

He was asked by a member of the public: “There are large groups gathering in local parks, ignoring social distancing rules. When many of us are being so vigilant and staying alert, what can be done to discourage this disregard for the rules?”

Johnson replied: “Feel free to speak to people yourself if you feel that they are not obeying the rules… But the police will step in if necessary and encourage people to obey the law.”

This wasn’t the only gathering held in the Downing Street garden in May 2020.

Five days earlier, on 15 May, staff held a ‘wine and cheese’ rendezvous with small groups gathered on the lawn. 314 people died from COVID on 15 May 2020.

Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie were pictured at this event, which Downing Street has called a “work meeting”.

Johnson has also admitted that he attended the event on 20 May – reportedly “wandering round gladhanding people” – though the Prime Minister claims that he did not realise that it was a ‘party’.

These revelations follow a slew of stories, exposing numerous gatherings held in November and December 2020 – when tiered restrictions were being re-imposed in reaction to rapidly rising case rates.

These gatherings included a Christmas party attended by around 40 members of Johnson’s team on 18 December – just two days after new restrictions were introduced in London, banning indoor mixing between households. Some 514 people died of COVID-19 on 18 December 2020, while daily cases had reached 35,800 – more than double the figure recorded at the start of the month.

The Prime Minister’s former spokesperson Allegra Stratton resigned after footage emerged showing her joking on 22 December about “a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night” in a mock press conference. Johnson said that he was “furious” about the footage and apologised “unreservedly” to the British people – for the fact that Stratton had seemingly mocked the rules, not because a gathering had taken place.

Several parties were also held by other Government departments during the festive period – including the Treasury, the Department for Education, and the Department for Transport. The Byline Intelligence Team also revealed that a gathering was held at Skipton House – a building in London managed by the Department of Health and Social Care – between military personnel on 9 December. The Ministry of Defence subsequently announced that it was investigating the event.

In sum, 5,664 people died from COVID-19 on the days that these parties were held. Moreover, 662 people were issued with fines by the Metropolitan Police for breaching COVID-19 restrictions in London during the weeks when these gatherings took place in the capital – not including the parties in May, for which data is unavailable.

The Met has so far refused to investigate any of the parties, despite an overwhelming 76% of people – and 61% of 2019 Conservative voters – saying that a police investigation should take place.

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