Timeline of alleged partygate events as PM pictured drinking at gathering during lockdown

Number 10 Downing Street
Alleged breaches of Covid-19 restrictions at Whitehall and Downing Street have been put under the microscope by the Metropolitan Police. Credit: PA

ITV News has obtained pictures showing Boris Johnson with a drink in his hand at a gathering in Downing Street while England was in lockdown - casting doubt on his claims he was unaware rules were broken.

The four images show the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party on 13th November 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him - while England was under a strict Covid lockdown.

It comes after the Metropolitan Police announced their investigation into partygate events held in Whitehall and Downing Street during the pandemic has now concluded.

Operation Hillman probed alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations on eight separate dates and issued fines to 126 people.

It is understood Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not received notification of another fixed-penalty notice.

In late May, ITV News obtained pictures showing Boris Johnson with a drink in his hand at a gathering in Downing Street while England was in lockdown - casting doubt on his claims he was unaware rules were broken.

Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were previously fined in April for attending a birthday party for the prime minister - first reported by ITV News in January - at Downing Street. The trio apologised and paid their £50 fines.

Mr Johnson previously said he will have "plenty to say" about the scandal when the police investigation concludes.

It follows the news that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is now being investigated over an alleged lockdown breach when he was filmed drinking beer last April in Durham.

Both Sir Keir and his deputy Angela Rayner - who also attended the gathering - said they will resign if it is found that they breached coronavirus laws, but both insist that no rules were broken. Claiming they stopped for dinner at a campaign event.

So how did we get here? Here's a timeline of the partygate saga:

May 20, 2020: Bring Your Own Booze party

A leaked email showed No 10 staff were invited to “bring your own booze” to an event in the Downing Street garden.

Mr Johnson has admitted he was there for 25 minutes but said he thought it was a “work event” to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

Earlier that month initial lockdown rules in England had been relaxed, permitting people to leave home for outdoor recreation.

Rules around socialising were also changed, with people allowed to meet one person from outside their household, provided the encounter was socially distanced and took place outside.

However, outdoor gatherings with multiple people from other households were not allowed at the time.

June 18, 2020: Cabinet Office leaving do

Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s interim report said a gathering in the 70 Whitehall building was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.

The Telegraph said it understood about 20 people attended, with alcohol consumed.

At that time people were only allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to six, as long as they remained two metres apart.

Government guidance made clear that if you were visiting someone else in their guidance you should not mix with them indoors.

The rules at the time stated: “If you are in someone else’s garden, you must not go inside to help the host carry the food out or to help with the washing up.”

June 19, 2020: Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday

Downing Street has admitted staff “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for the prime minister organised by his now-wife Carrie.

However, No 10 has denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.

The law at the time prohibited two or more people from different households being indoors at the same time.

It was interpreted that someone from a different household would be breaking the law if they went indoors just to use the toilet, or walk through the house, if it was not empty.

Both Mr and Mrs Johnson and Mr Sunak have all been fined over this event.

November 13, 2020: Downing Street flat do

Carrie Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and her husband live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure.

A spokesperson for the prime minister’s wife has called the claim “total nonsense”.

But reports have since suggested that Mr Johnson was seen heading up to the flat on the night in question, with the Mail On Sunday stating that Abba songs, including The Winner Takes It All, were heard coming from the residence.

Mr Cummings, former de facto chief-of-staff at No 10, has alleged there are photographs of parties held at the flat during lockdown and said he has spoken to people who heard music coming from the Johnsons’ accommodation on the night he left Downing Street.

A second national lockdown for England began on November 5.

People were ordered to stay at home during this period and only leave under a limited number of exceptions, not including gatherings.

Different households were banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens, unless in a support bubble.

Also on this date, and according to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech at a gathering for a different departing member of staff.

At the time organisers of large gatherings of more than 30 people could have been fined £10,000.

December 15, 2020: Online Christmas quiz in No 10

Police initially said they did not intend to investigate the quiz, during which the prime minister appeared on contestants’ screens.

However, they later said they would review the decision after a photograph emerged of Mr Johnson alongside an open bottle of sparkling wine.

December 17, 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case removed himself from the inquiry into Whitehall parties – to be replaced by Ms Gray – after reports emerged of a gathering in the Cabinet Office.

It was reported that the do had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was noted in digital calendars as “Christmas party!” and included an online quiz.

The Cabinet Office said Mr Case played no part in the event “but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own”.

Earlier that month, England introduced a tier system, with the majority of the country, including London, in Tier 2, where the restrictions meant a ban on households mixing indoors, and pubs and restaurants only able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.

However, days before the event, London moved into Tier 3, meaning the hospitality sector had to close except for takeaways, and groups of six could only meet in outdoor public spaces.

December 17, 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head

The former director-general of the government’s Covid Taskforce, Kate Josephs, said she was “truly sorry” over leaving drinks held in the Cabinet Office.

December 17, 2020: No 10 leaving do

A leaving do was reportedly held for a departing Downing Street official.

The Mirror, which first reported the event before the police investigation began, said the prime minister was only there “for a few minutes”.

December 18, 2020: Downing Street Christmas party

Officials and advisers reportedly 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’s former spokesperson, Allegra Stratton, resigned after a video - first reported by ITV News - emerged of her joking about a “fictional party” at a mock press conference.

 January 14, 2021: More Downing Street leaving drinks

A gathering is said to have been held in No 10 to mark the departure of two private secretaries.

Reports have suggested the prime minister attended the leaving event, which was for a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, according to the Telegraph.

The other official’s identity is so far unknown.

National restrictions were reintroduced for a third time on January 6.

The rules during the third lockdown were more like those in the first lockdown, meaning people were once again told to stay at home.

However, people could still form support bubbles but a gathering, similar to the one alleged to have taken place on January 14, was not allowed.

Police could issue fines starting at £200 in England for those breaking the rules.

 April 16, 2021: Two leaving dos on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The night before the Queen sat alone at the funeral of her husband of more than 70 years, in compliance with Covid rules at the time, two leaving dos were reportedly held in No 10.

Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after reported details emerged of boozy drinks parties.

Socialising indoors with people from other households was not allowed and meeting others outdoors was limited to groups of six people or two households.

April 12, 2022

A No 10 spokesperson confirmed that Mr and Ms Johnson and Mr Sunak would be issued with fines for breaches of Covid-19 regulations following allegations of lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

The prime minister, his wife and the chancellor all apologised and confirmed they had paid fines imposed over a party held on June 19, 2020, to mark Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday.

The Metropolitan Police announced that, to date, they had made more than 50 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPN) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office for breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

May 2022

There was a renewed focus from some quarters of the media and politics on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer amid allegations that he broke lockdown rules in 2021 – dubbed “beergate” by some when he ate a curry with members of staff during a campaign event.

Durham Constabulary previously said they did not believe an offence had been established.

May 6, 2022

Durham Constabulary said the Labour leader is to be investigated by police over the allegations “following the receipt of significant new information over recent days”.

Sir Keir had come under pressure since footage emerged of him drinking a beer with reportedly up to 30 colleagues at a constituency office in Durham in April 2021 during campaigning for the Hartlepool by-election.

He has repeatedly denied breaching the rules.

May 23, 2022

ITV News obtained pictures showing Boris Johnson raising a glass at a leaving party on 13th November 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him.

The photos cast fresh doubt on the prime minister’s claims that he was unaware of rule-breaking in Downing Street during the pandemic.

In several of the photographs, Boris Johnson appears to be making a speech and raising a toast, with half a glass of fizz in his hands.

On a chair sits his red box, and on the table next to him are two bottles of champagne or cava, four bottles of wine and half a bottle of gin.

The Met Police referred ITV News to statements made earlier in Mat after they'd completed their investigation into breaches of Covid regulations at Downing Street and Whitehall.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball, of the Met said then: “Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed and the importance of ensuring that we had strong evidence for each FPN referral.

“This investigation is now complete.”