Boris Johnson's former press secretary Allegra Stratton resigns amid No10 party row
ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand has the latest developments on the alleged No.10 party scandal which has forced the resignation of Allegra Stratton amid an angry public backlash
Boris Johnson's former press secretary Allegra Stratton has resigned from government after ITV News revealed a video showing her laughing with No 10 staff about an alleged Covid-rule-breaking party in Downing Street last Christmas.
In the footage staff can be heard making references to “cheese and wine”, while Mr Johnson's then spokesperson Ms Stratton remarked there was “definitely no social distancing.”
Speaking through tears, Ms Stratton gave a statement to broadcasters saying she would "regret those remarks for the rest of my days", as she confirmed she had quit as an adviser to the prime minister.
The former journalist, who previously worked for ITV News and the BBC, offered her "profound apologies".
"My remarks seemed to make light of rules, rules that people were doing everything to obey. That was never my intention."
Prime Minister Johnson also apologised for the video, which he said "sickened" him.
In PMQs on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said he was "furious" to see the leaked recording but added he has been "repeatedly reassured" there was no party.
The prime minister has asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate whether events in Number 10 last year broke strict lockdown rules enforced in England last December.
The alleged party is said to have taken place on December 18 while millions of people in the UK were being forced to avoid socialising because of coronavirus lockdowns.
What are the possible routes of investigation into the alleged No.10 Christmas party?
At the time London was in Tier 3 restrictions, under which the law clearly stated: “No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in any indoor space.”
The prime minister agreed to provide the Metropolitan Police with any information the government has about Downing Street parties, with the force currently considering whether it should investigate.
Ms Stratton told reporters: "Working in government is an immense privilege. I tried to do right by you all, to behave with civility and decency and up to the high standards you expect of Number 10."
She said she understood the "anger and frustration" people feel.
Watch the video of Allegra Stratton laughing about an alleged party in No 10 last Christmas
"To all of you who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness and who struggled with your businesses, I am truly sorry and this afternoon I am offering my resignation to the prime minister."
Meanwhile, the most senior civil servant at the Department for Education has apologised for a party attended by several members of staff on December 10 last year.
Susan Acland-Hood admitted attending the party, which she said was instigated by former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
She told the Commons Public Accounts Committee: "While this was a work-related gathering, looking back we accept that it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time."