Fresh claims have emerged that two parties were held in Downing Street the night before the Queen sat alone at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, while the rest of the country was under Covid rules banning mass indoor mixing.
According to The Telegraph, the events are said to have taken place on the evening of April 16, 2021 - while the country was in a period of public mourning and coronavirus restrictions were in force.
The paper's allegations come in the same week that ITV News published a leaked email providing the first evidence of a party on May 20, 2020, at the height of the first lockdown.
The email showed 100 staff were invited to attend "socially distanced drinks" in the Number 10 garden to "make the most of the lovely weather".
Following our report, Mr Johnson admitted on Wednesday that he attended a "bring your own booze" lockdown-breaking gathering in the Downing Street garden on May 20 - but claimed he believed it was a work event.
Amid a furore of national anger, four senior Conservative MPs have publicly called for the PM to resign - with the latest alleged revelations only adding fuel to the fire.
At the time of the two alleged parties in April, England was in step two of the government’s road map out of lockdown, which limited socialising to groups of six people or two households outdoors.
The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.
They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Boris Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the PM’s personal photographers, the newspaper said.
The Telegraph cited a No 10 spokesperson as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day. He is said to have been at Chequers.
The newspaper said it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined, and reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music.
The two events are said to have started separately and later merged.
Mr Slack gave a farewell speech after finishing work, with some colleagues joining via video link, the Telegraph reported.
It is alleged that alcohol was opened and the group later moved into the Downing Street garden.
The second gathering, for the PM’s personal photographer, was reported to have taken place in the No 10 basement.
This group also headed to the garden later on, the newspaper said, where the parties merged. The celebrations are said to have continued into the early hours of the morning.
At the time, government guidance stated: “You must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble. You can meet outdoors, including in gardens, in groups of six people or two households”.
The latest allegations come as the PM avoided a public engagement on Thursday, instead following guidance to avoid crowded spaces after coming into contact with a Covid case - ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana has the details
A Downing Street spokesperson said of Mr Slack’s event: “On this individual’s last day he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home”.
The spokesperson offered no further comment on the allegations that a farewell gathering was held for the PM’s personal photographer.
Philip, the Queen’s husband of 74 years, died aged 99 in April 2021.
His funeral was held during the pandemic and complied with coronavirus restrictions within the confines of Windsor Castle.
The monarch poignantly sat alone in a face mask socially distanced from her loved ones.