Boris Johnson reportedly pictured with beer at Covid-19 lockdown-breaking ​'birthday bash​'

Credit: PA

Police investigating allegations of Covid-19 lockdown-breaking gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall, reportedly have an image of Boris Johnson holding a beer up to a camera at a birthday party allegedly held for him in June 2020.

The so-called birthday bash, held on June 19, 2020 when coronavirus rule forbade social gatherings indoors, was first reported on by ITV News last month.

It's alleged that the prime minister's wife, Carrie Johnson, helped organise a surprise get-together for him on the afternoon of 19 June just after 2pm.

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand broke the story last month

Boris Johnson in the No 10 Cabinet Room during a minute's silence for key workers who have died during the pandemic, April 2020. Credit: PA

Up to 30 people are said to have attended the event in the Cabinet Room after Boris Johnson returned from an official visit to a school in Hertfordshire.   

ITV News understands that the interior designer, Lulu Lytle - who was not a member of No 10 staff - also attended the alleged gathering.

At the time Ms Lytle was renovating Boris Johnson’s flat in Downing Street, which has been the subject of a separate controversy

Nine days before the alleged birthday bash at No 10, on 10 June, Mr Johnson asked the public "to continue to show restraint and respect the rules which are designed to keep us all safe" during a Downing Street Covid press conference

ITV News also understands that on the evening of 19 June 2020, family friends were hosted upstairs in the prime minister’s residence in an apparent further breach of the rules.

Number 10 have denied this, claiming the prime minister only hosted a small number of family members outside.

At the afternoon event, Carrie Johnson and Lulu Lytle are believed to have presented the prime minister with a cake whilst his wife led staff in a chorus of happy birthday.

Those assembled are understood to have eaten picnic food from M&S, with the gathering lasting for around 20-30 minutes. Downing Street says the prime minister only attended for less than 10 minutes. 

The Mirror reported it had seen a picture of the PM in No 10's Cabinet Room standing next to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Sources told the paper that in the image, Mr Johnson appeared to be raising a can of Estrella beer towards the camera in a toast.

The Mirror understands that the image was taken by the PM's taxpayer-funded photographer.

Last week, the Metropolitan Police said it has received 300 images as part of its investigation into allegations of 12 lockdown-breaking parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall in 2020 and 2021.

The Mirror reported that Mr Sunak is understood to have attended the event as he turned up for a Covid meeting, but had not been invited in advance.

ITV News understands those present at the afternoon 'party' included the prime minister’s former principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, who had previously invited over 100 staff to a drinks party on 20 May 2020.

Jack Doyle, No10's former director of communications, and the head of operations, Shelley Williams-Walker, are also said to have been there. They were joined by other members of the Prime Minister's Private Office, No10 special advisers and No10 operations and events staff.

Both Mr Reynolds and Mr Doyle are amongst five or Mr Johnson's aides to resign in 24 hours.

Some senior Tories say the resignations signal "the beginning of the end" for Mr Johnson, but his spokesman claimed the prime minister is simply rebuilding his team after the partygate scandal.

The week before his alleged birthday party, Boris Johnson had asked the rest of the country to stick to the guidance in a press conference from Downing Street. 

“I urge everyone to continue to show restraint and respect the rules which are designed to keep us all safe. It’s only because of the restraint that everyone, you all have shown so far, that we are able to move gradually out of this lockdown”, he said on 10 June 2020.

He added: "It is emphatically not designed for people who don't qualify to start meeting inside other people's homes - that remains against the law."

On 13 June, 2020, six days before Boris Johnson's birthday, the Queen watched a scaled back ceremony for her official birthday on her own, without family by her side. Her Majesty viewed the annual Trooping the Colour parade from behind the walls of Windsor Castle, with none of it on public view, while the parade was conducted adhering to the strict two metre government guidelines on social distancing at the time.

No 10 said it could not comment while the Met Police’s investigation was ongoing.

The Treasury was contacted for comment but Mr Sunak has previously said he was in the room for a Covid meeting.

When asked last month by ITV News about the allegations that a party was held on the PM's birthday, Number 10 responded saying: “A group of staff working in No 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the prime minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than 10 minutes.”

Responding to the claims about an alleged event later that evening in the prime minister's flat, a Number 10 spokesperson said, “This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”A spokesperson for Soane Britain, the company co-founded by Lulu Lytle, said: "Lulu was present in Downing Street on 19 June working on the refurbishment. Lulu was not invited to any birthday celebrations for the Prime Minister as a guest. Lulu entered the Cabinet Room briefly as requested, while waiting to speak with the Prime Minister."