Picture of wine and cheese at Downing St was 'people at work talking about work', says Boris Johnson

This is what the prime minister and deputy prime minister had to say about a photo of Downing Street staff having wine and cheese during lockdown, ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports

Boris Johnson has insisted a leaked photograph of him, his wife Carrie, and Downing Street staff eating cheese and drinking wine in the Number 10 garden shows "people at work talking about work".

Asked about the image, shared by the Guardian, from May 2020 when the country was under national lockdown the Prime Minister said: “Those were people at work talking about work.”

"Those were meetings of people at work talking about work. This is where I live, it is where I work. Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work," he added.

'Those were meetings of people at work talking about work'

When pressed again about whether other people could drink wine at work and stick within the rules, he added: "I have said what I have said about that."

The deputy prime minister earlier on Monday told ITV News it is "uncharitable" of people to criticise Mr Johnson and Carrie for enjoying cheese and wine with Whitehall staff after a "busy day".

Dominic Raab defended the image showing the PM and his wife, who appears to be holding their newborn baby, sitting at a table with a cheeseboard and wine along with two other people.

Dominic Raab insisted the image depicted a 'work meeting' and defended the reasons why Carrie was at a business gathering

Small groups of people talking and drinking are also dotted around the garden in the image understood to have been taken on Friday May 15, 2020.

Earlier that day, then health secretary Matt Hancock, had urged people in a Covid press briefing to “stay at home as much as is possible” despite the good weather.

Rules at the time allowed only two people from different households to meet outside in a socially distanced manner - but Mr Raab insisted the PM did not break his own Covid laws and all staff were following them on the day in question.

The deputy PM insisted it was a "work meeting" and the Downing Street garden "was used to conduct business throughout the difficult conditions of the pandemic...

“Those meetings were held in the garden and occasionally there was drink there as well.”

Sources told the Guardian and Independent earlier this week the prime minister spent about 15 minutes at the gathering and told one staff member they deserved a drink for “beating back” coronavirus.

They claimed about 20 staff drank wine and spirits and ate pizza after a Covid briefing. Some were in the office and some were in the garden and some stayed drinking until late, it is alleged.

The latest photo comes after a leaked video, obtained by ITV News, showed senior Downing Street staff joking about a December 18 No 10 "cheese and wine" party - days after it's alleged to have taken place

Downing Street claimed the May 15 gathering was a work meeting and that Mr Johnson went back to his flat at 7pm.

The prime minister's spokesperson said on Thursday: “In the summer months, Downing Street staff regularly use the garden for some meetings.

"On 15 May 2020, the prime minister held a series of meetings throughout the afternoon, including briefly with the then health and care secretary and his team in the garden following a press conference.

“The prime minister went to his residence shortly after 7pm. A small number of staff required to be in work remained in the Downing Street garden for part of the afternoon and evening.”

Earlier this month, ITV News released leaked footage of senior staff laughing about a Christmas party in Number 10, alleged to have happened on December 18.

The December 18 event is now the subject of an investigation ordered by Boris Johnson and his former press secretary resigned over the video.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who had been tasked with leading the investigation, was then hit by accusations that his department's office held its own gathering for a partially virtual quiz on December 17 last year.