Boris Johnson's senior aide 'gave awards at Downing Street Christmas party' during lockdown
ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand has exclusive developments on the No10 party claims which continue to draw negative headlines for Downing Street despite their insistence that such an event never occurred
Boris Johnson's most senior communications adviser made a thank you speech and handed out awards at the alleged Downing Street Christmas party on December 18 which is now the subject of an internal investigation by the Cabinet Office, ITV News has been told.
It's understood Jack Doyle, currently Number 10's most senior spin doctor but who then was the Deputy Director of Communications, addressed up to 50 people who were in attendance at the alleged party.
ITV News has also been told that Doyle handed out certificates as part of a joke awards ceremony to members of the communications team for work done during the year.
Listen to our coronavirus podcast on the inside scoop of how ITV News obtained the leaked video showing senior Downing Street staff joking about a Christmas party
Sources familiar with the situation maintain that senior figures thanked staff at the end of every week, and this was a routine speech. However on this occasion, ITV News has learned that multiple awards were given out to the team, who received paper certificates.
Before joining Downing Street, Doyle previously worked as a journalist for the likes of the Daily Mail and the Press Association.
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On Tuesday, ITV News revealed that senior Downing Street staff joked about holding a Christmas party in Number 10 just four days after the event is alleged to have taken place.
Since then, Boris Johnson has apologised, saying he was "furious" to see the leaked video.
"I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives," he said.
"But I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured."
Senior Downing Street staff joke about holding a Christmas party in a mock televised press briefing
He also asked cabinet secretary Simon Case to investigate whether events in Number 10 last year broke strict lockdown rules.
Mr Johnson's former press secretary, who featured in the video, also resigned in the fallout.
Allegra 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.On Thursday, it was confirmed that two other alleged Covid-rule-breaking parties attended by people in government will be the subject of an official investigation.
However, the Metropolitan Police said they will not investigate allegations of the Downing Street party on December 18, due to an “absence of evidence”.The PM is facing anger from his own MPs, not only over the alleged rule breaking, but because he hastily triggered a switch to his Plan B for Covid restrictions amid the furore about parties last year.
Who is Jack Doyle?
Jack Doyle is currently No. 10's Director of Communications, having been promoted from Deputy Director.
Before his career in politics, Doyle was a journalist. He worked for the likes of the Daily Mail and the Press Association.