Boris Johnson is accused of having personally attended an aperitif in the garden of No. 10 during the first confinement.
Downing Street did not immediately deny a Sunday Times report alleging the Prime Minister attended the potentially rule-breaking event with his wife Carrie in May 2020.
The newspaper quoted three sources as saying Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, emailed officials with an invitation adding “BYOB”, meaning bring your own bottle or liquor.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating the May 20 event as part of her investigation into numerous allegations of rule-breaking events that took place at No 10 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boris Johnson reportedly attended a drink in the garden of No 10 during the first lockdown with his wife Carrie (pictured together at the Conservative Party conference late last year)
Mr Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds (left) is said to have sent out a ‘bring your own bottle’ email invitation
Allegations of the gathering, which is believed to have been attended by 40 people, emerged this week when Dominic Cummings said he warned at the time that ‘socially distanced drinking’ would likely be against the rules and ‘should not happen “.
But the front-page report suggesting that Mr Johnson himself was present will add to the seriousness of the allegations.
The Prime Minister imposed England’s first lockdown to tackle Covid-19 in March 2020 and it was not until June 1 that groups of up to six people were allowed to meet outside.
Deputy Labor Party leader Angela Rayner said: “The culture of utter disregard for the rules seems to have taken hold of life in Downing Street from the very start of the pandemic.
‘While much of the country was struggling with empty shelves and a total lockdown with no meeting with other authorized people, it appears No 10 was throwing parties from the start.
“Boris Johnson and his team are taking the country for fools. We need Sue Gray’s independent inquiry report as soon as possible and Boris Johnson must face the consequences of his actions.
Ms Gray, a senior Cabinet Office official, also widened her inquiry to the May 15, 2020 garden gathering revealed by a leaked photo showing the Prime Minister and staff seated around cheese and wine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson, with their daughter Romy and their dog Dilyn
Mr Cummings, who was pictured, insisted in a blog post on Friday that there was nothing “illegal or unethical” about the day, which he said him, was a staff meeting.
But the Vote Leave veteran, who left as chief adviser to Downing Street in November 2020, wrote: ‘On Wednesday May 20, the week after this photo, a senior No 10 invited people to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the garden. ‘
Mr Cummings said he and at least one other special adviser ‘said it seemed to be against the rules and should not be happening’, adding that he issued the warning ‘in writing so that Sue Gray can dig up the original email.”
“We were ignored. I was sick and went home to bed early in the afternoon, but was told this event definitely happened,’ he continued.
No 10 and a spokeswoman for Ms Johnson were both asked to comment on the latest claim.
Top mandarin who heads Boris Johnson’s private office lines up to be Partygate’s ‘autumn guy’
By GLEN OWEN for the Mail on Sunday
A senior civil servant who heads Boris Johnson’s private office is set to become the ‘fall guy’ for Partygate’s No 10 row, senior sources have said.
Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, is set to be moved after the Cabinet Office concluded its inquiry into whether rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during the Covid lockdowns.
One option being explored is to give Mr. Reynolds a high-level diplomatic role, possibly at ambassadorial level.
Mr Reynolds was pictured sitting with the Prime Minister and his then-fiancée Carrie Symonds at a ‘cheese and wine’ party in the Downing Street garden on May 15, 2020.
Martin Reynolds (above), the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, is set to be moved after the Cabinet Office concluded its inquiry into whether the rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during lockdowns covid
Mr Reynolds was pictured sitting with the Prime Minister and his then-fiancée Carrie Symonds at a ‘cheese and wine’ party in the Downing Street garden on May 15, 2020. (Above, the Prime Minister and his wife last October)
It was also reported that he emailed an invitation for a separate garden party five days later.
Dominic Cummings, the former No 10 senior adviser, revealed the party on Friday in a blog post and claimed he warned colleagues at the time that the gathering broke lockdown rules and should not have had place.
He said he wrote the warning in an email that could be discovered by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who is investigating claims that parties took place.
On the day of the May 20 garden party, Oliver Dowden, then Culture Secretary, urged the public to only meet one other person outside and to observe social distancing rules.
Ms Gray replaced Cabinet Secretary Simon Case as head of the Whitehall inquiry after allegations emerged of a staff meeting for drinks in her own office in Whitehall.
In his blog, Dominic Cummings (above) wrote: ‘On Wednesday May 20…a senior No 10 invited people to ‘socially distant drinks’ in the garden, adding that he had sent an e -mail “that it seemed against the rules and shouldn’t happen… [it is] in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email’
On the day of the May 20 garden party, Oliver Dowden (pictured), then Culture Secretary, urged the public to only meet one other person outside and to respect social distancing rules
Mr Johnson has always denied knowledge of any breaches of the rules.
A source said: “It had already been decided to move Martin, but the plan at the moment is to wait for the Gray report – which is bound to be critical – to help distract others she might criticize. “
The email allegedly sent by Mr Reynolds inviting people to a party on May 20 is believed to have been erased from No 10’s system.
One source said it was an invitation for a “kneel down”, while another said it was an “informal meeting”, with officials encouraged to “bring your own alcohol”.
In his blog, Mr Cummings wrote: ‘On Wednesday May 20 … a senior No 10 invited people to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the garden, adding that he had sent an email’ that seemed like it was against the rules and shouldn’t happen… [it is] in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email.
Mr Cummings left Downing Street in November 2020 after a bitter power struggle with Mr Johnson’s future wife Carrie.