What Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have said about Downing Street parties since the story broke

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have previously denied allegations. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have defended their conduct throughout the partygate scandal - but have now been told they will be issued with fixed-penalty notices.

Police have made at least 50 referrals for fixed-penalty notices (FPNs), up from 20 at the end of March, to ACRO Criminal Records Office, which is responsible for issuing the fines.

Mr Johnson is understood to have been present at six of the at least 12 events being investigated.

He said in the House of Commons on December 1, 2021, when challenged on potential lockdown breaking in No 10 during the Christmas period, "what I can tell (him) is that all guidance was followed completely (during) Number 10."

But on April 12, 2022 the PM said he had paid a fixed penalty notice in relation to a gathering in the Cabinet Room on his birthday on June 19, 2020 and, while he had not believed he was in breach of the rules at the time, he now “humbly” accepted that he was.

Here is what the prime minister has said in response to the claims which have been made.

May 15 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (cheese and wine)

In December 2021, a photo emerged showing Boris and Carrie Johnson, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s then principal private secretary Martin Reynolds sitting around a table in the No 10 garden during the first national lockdown.

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

Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 20 2021: “Those were meetings of people at work. This is where I live and it’s where I work. Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.”

May 20 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (BYOB)

An email, leaked to ITV News, from Mr Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees, asked them to “bring your own booze” to an evening gathering.

The prime minister admitted attending for 25 minutes but insisted he thought the gathering was a work event, while No 10 said Mr Johnson did not know about the event beforehand.

But his former chief aide Mr Cummings said this was not true, and he had warned it was against the rules.

This email was sent by the prime minister's personal private secretary, inviting more 100 staff members for drinks in the Number 10 garden. Credit: ITV News

Mr Johnson said during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in north London: “I want to begin by repeating my apologies to everybody for the misjudgments that I’ve made, that we may have made in No 10 and beyond, whether in Downing Street or throughout the pandemic.

“Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules, that the event in question was something that… was not a work event, and as I said in the House of Commons, when I went out into that garden I thought that I was attending a work event.”

On February 20 2022 he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “You’re just going to have to wait until the process (police investigation) is complete – there is literally not a bean I can tell you about that, as much as I would like to.”

June 19 2020: A surprise birthday party held for the prime minister in the Cabinet Room at Number 10

Mr Johnson said on April 12 2022 that he had paid a fixed penalty notice in relation to a breach of coronavirus rules.

He said it was “a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.”

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

Mr Johnson said “it didn’t occur to me” that it was a breach of the rules but added: “I now humbly accept that I was.”

The event was first reported by ITV News - up to 30 people are said to have attended the event in the Cabinet Room after Mr Johnson returned from an official visit to a school in Hertfordshire.

November 13 2020: Leaving party for senior aide and the Johnsons’ flat party

According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and close ally of Mr Cummings.

There were also allegations the prime minister’s then fiancee, now wife, hosted parties in the couple’s flat at No 11, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 2020, the night Mr Cummings departed No 10.

Mr Johnson told the Commons on December 8 2021: “I’m sure that, whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”

It was then reported in February 2022 that PM had been seen heading up to his flat on the night in question. The prime minister repeatedly refused to say if he was there.

December 15 2020: Downing Street quiz

The Sunday Mirror published an image in December 2021 showing the prime minister flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in No 10 the previous year.

Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson “briefly” attended the quiz after photographic evidence emerged, but insisted it was a virtual event.

In an interview on December 13 2021, the prime minister said: “I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules – the whole thing will be looked into by the Cabinet Secretary, and what I’m focused on, frankly, is the vaccine rollout.”

On February 9 2022, at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Mr Johnson was challenged by Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who said the image appeared to show “one of the Christmas parties he told us never happened.”

He added: “Will the prime minister be referring this party to the police as it is not one of the ones currently being investigated?”

Mr Johnson responded: “In what he has just said, I’m afraid he is completely in error.”

Challenged again during PMQs, Mr Johnson added: “That event already has been submitted for investigation.”

December 18 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street

According to reports which first emerged at the end of November 2021, officials and advisers made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged secret Santa gifts – although the prime minister is not thought to have attended.

Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 7 2021: “I have satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”

He said in the House of Commons the next day: “I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken. That is what I have been repeatedly assured.”

The prime minister added: “I apologise for the impression that has been given that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously. I am sickened myself and furious about that, but I repeat what I have said to him: I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken.”

April 16 2021: Leaving parties on the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on April 16 2021, as the country was in mourning after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

One was for former Downing Street director of communications James Slack and the second for a photographer, and they were later reported to have merged.

The newspaper said No 10 staff partied until the early hours of the morning in a seven-hour drinking session.

Downing Street staff brought a suitcase of wine into No10 for leaving parties that took place as the Queen was preparing for her husband's funeral, as Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports

Wine and spirits with mixers were said to have been served in disposable plastic cups, and at one point alcohol was reportedly spilled on an office printer.

Takeaway pizzas were reported to have been ordered in and some of the revellers were said to have used a slide belonging to Mr and Mrs Johnson’s son, Wilfred.

The following day the Queen sat alone, socially distanced from her family, as she said goodbye to her husband.

Covid restrictions meant the Queen had to sit alone during Prince Philip's funeral. Credit: PA

No 10 previously said an apology had been extended to Buckingham Palace.

Mr Johnson said: “I deeply and bitterly regret that that happened.”

He added: “I can only renew my apologies both to Her Majesty and to the country for misjudgments that were made, and for which I take full responsibility.”

Here is what the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said on four occasions about partygate:

December 7 2021:

Speaking during a session of questions to the Treasury in the House of Commons, Mr Sunak denied attending parties when asked if he was at reported Christmas gatherings in December 2020.

Labour MP Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) had asked: “The Chancellor was evasive when interviewed by the media last week but we need a clear answer on this very important point because many people across the country made great personal sacrifice during the lockdown.

“So will the Chancellor categorically deny in the House that he or any of his officials or spads (special advisers) attended any of the Downing Street Christmas parties on November 27 or December 18 last year?”

Mr Sunak replied: “No, I did not attend any parties.”

January 18 2022:

The Chancellor abruptly ended an interview when pressed if he would give his full support to the prime minister. At the time six Conservative MPs had publicly called for Mr Johnson to go.

In his first interview since Mr Johnson’s apology to MPs over the scandal, the Chancellor said he accepted Mr Johnson’s explanation that he was not warned in advance about a No 10 drinks party during lockdown in May 2020.

“Of course I do. The prime minister set out his understanding of this matter last week in Parliament. I refer you to his words,” he told broadcasters.

“Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into this matter and I fully support the prime minister’s requests for patience while that concludes.”

Asked if the prime minister should resign if he lied to Parliament, Mr Sunak said: “I am not going to get into hypotheticals, the ministerial code is clear on these matters.”

Pressed on whether Mr Johnson had his unequivocal support, Mr Sunak swiftly broke off the interview, walking off with a microphone still attached.

February 3 2022:

The Chancellor acknowledged he was in the Cabinet Room when No 10 staff held a birthday gathering for Boris Johnson on June 19 2020.

Mr Sunak told the BBC he had been there for a meeting to discuss the Covid-19 situation.

“I am in the Cabinet Room for a Covid meeting much like the other 100, 200, God knows how many other Covid meetings,” he said.

“You’re asking me about something that happened almost two years ago. I went to that Cabinet Room, as I did many other times for Covid meetings. And it’s right that we allow this police investigation.”

The Chancellor also acknowledged that the government needed to rebuild public confidence following the disclosures over parties during lockdown.

“I can appreciate people’s frustration. And I think it’s now the job of all of us in government, all politicians, to restore people’s trust,” he said.

February 11 2022:

Mr Sunak told Sky News he had not received a questionnaire from the Met Police at that time and, asked whether he expected to receive a form to complete, he replied: “No… well, I don’t know.”

He also replied “no” when asked if he believed he had broken lockdown rules.

Pressed about whether he still had confidence in Mr Johnson, the Chancellor added: “The prime minister has my total support.”