Dominic Cummings has implied that Downing Street is covering up Christmas parties during lockdown last year, saying it is “very unwise for No 10 to lie” after the prime minister’s spokesperson explicitly told reporters “there was not a party”.
Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser also alleged some political journalists attended gatherings at the PM’s flat.
Last week the Daily Mirror reported two events took place at Downing Street last year in the run up to the festive season. Boris Johnson allegedly gave a speech at a farewell gathering for former aide Cleo Watson last November, during the second national lockdown.
The other event is said to have been a staff Christmas party in December, where games were played, food and drink were served and guests stayed past midnight.
At this time, under Tier 3 Covid rules, Christmas parties and lunches were explicitly banned in London as social mixing indoors was prohibited.
On Monday, the prime minister’s spokesperson explicitly denied that such a party took place last December.
He said: “There was not a party, and Covid rules have been followed at all times,” but declined to say whether an internal investigation had been carried out.
He added: “As press secretary set out on a number of occasions when questioned about this originally, there was not a party and Covid rules have been followed at all times.”
When asked how he could be certain that no regulations were broken at the event last December, he said: “I don’t need to get into the positions we’ve taken. It is simply just a statement of fact”.
The spokesperson added that there was an intention to have a Christmas party at Downing Street this year, although a date for such an event has not yet been confirmed.
Following these statements, Mr Cummings took to Twitter to chastise the prime minister.
He said: “V unwise for No10 to lie about this but PM set the course of lying on covid in spring when he decided to start rewriting history, deny herd immunity plan, etc”.
The prime minister’s former chief adviser also accused political journalists who may have attended the Downing Street parties of “trying to bury” the story.
“NB some lobby hacks were also at parties in No10 flat so trying to bury this story…” he said on Twitter.
Mr Cummings himself infamously broke coronavirus rules during the first nationwide lockdown by driving to Durham.
He stopped working at Downing Street in November 2020 after losing a power struggle and reportedly being told to “never return” by the prime minister.
Since then, he has taken to criticising the government, taking aim at the prime minister over Brexit and Covid response policies.