A leaked video shows Downing Street staff joking about a Christmas party held at Number 10 that was reportedly taken just days after it was alleged to have taken place last December.
The recording, leaked to ITV News, shows Boris Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton appearing to rehearse answers to reporters’ questions.
Staff in the background can be heard laughing and making references to “cheese and wine” while Ms Stratton says there was “definitely no social distancing”.
It comes as Downing Street continue to deny that a Christmas party was held at the prime minister’s residence last year while London was in Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.
ITV News reports that the recording was taken on 22 December last year.
Ed Oldfield, adviser to the prime minister, can be heard asking the mock question: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?”
“I went home,” replies Ms Stratton, laughing, before composing herself, telling colleagues to “hold on”, as she appears to seriously consider her answer.
Later one of the staff members suggests an answer for Ms Stratton, saying: “It wasn’t a party. It was cheese and wine.”
At one point during laughter from the staff members, Ms Stratton warns her colleagues: “This is recorded.”
But she then jokes: “This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”
In response to the footage, a Downing Street spokesman said: “There was no Christmas party. COVID rules have been followed at all times.”