New photographs have emerged of Boris Johnson raising a glass of wine in front of a table strewn with bottles at the leaving do of a senior aide – an event for which the Metropolitan police decided not to issue the prime minister with a fixed-penalty notice.
The photos obtained by ITV News show Johnson holding a glass of wine as others raise their glasses, as well as appearing to give a speech. The event on 13 November 2020 was to mark the departure of his head of communications, Lee Cain.
Johnson has denied in the House of Commons that an event took place on that date. Asked by the MP Catherine West “whether there was a party in Downing Street on the 13th of November”, Johnson replied at the time: “Mr Speaker, no. But I’m sure that, whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”
Johnson appears to be giving a speech to assembled aides, with his ministerial red box on the chair beside him, next to bottles of fizz and empty glasses.
Earlier on Monday the prime minister’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings said there were photos due to be published imminently which would contradict the accounts of Partygate given by Boris Johnson to police and parliament.
Johnson was fined for one event as part of the Metropolitan police investigation, which examined other events that he attended.
Cummings, who has been deeply critical of Johnson since his departure, has provided written evidence to the inquiry by the civil servant Sue Gray, which is expected to be released imminently.
“Any reasonable person looking at some of these photos will only be able to conclude that the PM obviously lied to the Commons, and possibly to the cops, and there is no reasonable story for how others were fined for event X but not him,” he wrote on his Substack.
Cummings said junior staff had taken the bulk of the blame for events that had been organised by their superiors. A number of staff have received multiple fixed-penalty notices for attending events.
“Lots of junior people and particularly women – some of whom were told to go to certain events … and assured that the PM’s PPS [principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds]had a process to ensure lawfulness – have been fined, sometimes multiple times, while those who organised and attended the same events including the PM have been let off,” he said.
“Obviously you knew an actual party (such as clearly happened in 2021) would be against the rules but many of the fines were for events that junior staff thought were a normal part of work and had been approved as lawful,” he wrote.
“If we’re being fined, how come the PM who was there and appointed Martin, and unlike us was told BYOB was NOT within the rules, isn’t fined?!’”
Cummings said the police had not investigated certain events that Johnson had attended and said there was also evidence of a separate birthday party in the flat in No 11 where Johnson and his wife, Carrie, live.
“There is a paper trail including WhatsApps from the flat. Sounds very bad for Boris/Carrie right? Surely that must be investigated? No! The police simply ignored it.”
Cummings said he had never been found to have broken any Covid rules and had not been sent a police questionnaire as part of the Operation Hillman inquiry into breaches.
Gray’s full report is expected shortly, though those named have been given a chance to make representations. On Monday, a senior minister condemned briefings to the Daily Mail in which Gray was accused of “playing politics” after a row over a meeting between Gray and the prime minister before the report’s publication.
Asked if he condemned such briefings, Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News: “I would.”
He added: “I think the one thing I would say about Sue Gray, and I have never met her but I have heard a great deal about her, is that by repute she is one of the most fiercely independent and professional civil servants in the whole of government and brings a vast range of experience to bear, so I don’t think there is any politics.
“I do not think this meeting was anything other than a discussion of technicalities of the process. It would be genuinely wrong to impugn that there has been any pressure put on the nature of this report, in any way.”
Source: The Guardian