Video: ‘Britain’s PM Staff Violate COVID Rules With Christmas Party’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Victims of strict coronavirus measures lashed out at Britain’s prime minister after reports that his staff held a lavish Christmas party while strict social distancing orders were in place.
Boris Johnson’s staff even joked about the party of up to 40 people at Downing Street amid last year’s coronavirus lockdown in England, leaked video footage showed.
The prime minister’s office had denied media claims that a party was held for staff last Christmas.
But the footage, shown by ITV News television, showed senior staff members indirectly admitting to the party while participating in a December 2020 rehearsal for a press briefing.
The footage shot on December 22, 2020, came days after multiple sources said there was a staff party inside Downing Street, which would have contravened strict COVID regulations.
In the leaked video of a mock televised press conference, Johnson adviser Ed Oldfield is seen joking with Allegra Stratton about the alleged party held around December 18, 2021.
Ed Oldfield, an adviser to the prime minister, asks Johnson’s then-spokesperson Allegra Stratton: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night. Do you recognize those reports?”
In the footage, Stratton replies, “I went home,” before composing herself and telling colleagues to “hold on” as she appears to consider what her answer should be.
Oldfield then asks: “Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?”
Stratton laughs, looking down, before responding, “what’s the answer?” Staff then attempt to help Johnson’s then- spokesperson formulate a response. “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine,” suggests one.
Amid the back and forth, Stratton says laughingly: “This is recorded … This fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced.”
Becky Kummer, a spokesperson for the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, expressed shock about the revelations. “There are simply no words to describe how upsetting and shameful it is then to hear Boris Johnson’s team laughing about breaking the rules they had made,” she said.
Kummer noticed that the staff enjoyed themselves “while others followed the rules and could only say goodbye to their loved ones through a screen. It’s the behavior of people who think they’re above us.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer agrees: “The prime minister now needs to come clean and apologize. It cannot be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”
Despite remaining questions, Downing Street said in response to the leaked video: “There was no Christmas party. COVID rules have been followed at all times.”
Separately, the Department for Education confirmed a report that some staff and the then education secretary Gavin Williamson held an office party on December 10, 2020.
A DfE spokesperson told The Guardian newspaper that it was “a gathering” of officials already present “to thank those staff for their efforts during the pandemic.”
However, “While this was work-related, looking back, we accept it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time.”
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