5 New Partygate Revelations Uncovered By Bombshell Panorama Programme

·4 min read
(Photo: Dan Kitwood via PA Wire/PA Images)
(Photo: Dan Kitwood via PA Wire/PA Images)

(Photo: Dan Kitwood via PA Wire/PA Images)

As senior civil servant Sue Gray prepares to finally publish her full report into partygate, the BBC’s Panorama has shed more light on what went on inside 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country was locked down.

Laura Kuenssberg, the corporations’s former political editor, spoke to three insiders who had been present at some of the parties, two of whom have been fined by the police.

They revealed how breaking the Covid rules the prime minister had drawn up himself was commonplace, with alcohol-fuelled lockdown-busting gatherings taking place on a regular basis throughout the pandemic.

Here are the five new revelations uncovered by the bombshell investigation.

1) Boris Johnson regularly attended parties

One staffer told the programme they believed the PM had given “permission” for the parties to take place because he was a regular participant in the revelry.

“He was there,” they said. “He may have just been popping through on the way to his flat because that’s what would happen. You know, he wasn’t there saying ‘this shouldn’t be happening’. He wasn’t saying, ‘can everyone break up and go home? Can everyone socially distance? Can everyone put masks on?’ No, he wasn’t telling anybody that. He was grabbing a glass for himself.”

They also told of their disbelief when Johnson repeatedly claimed there had been no parties inside No. 10. “We were watching it all live and we just sort of looked at each other in disbelief like - why? Why is he denying this?”

2) Security guard mocked for trying to break up a party

One Downing Street insider told the programme how staff had “made fun” of a security guard when they tried to stop a party in full flow.

“I remember when a custodian tried to stop it all and he was just shaking his head in this party, being like, ‘This shouldn’t be happening’.

“People made fun of him because he was so worked up that this party was happening and it shouldn’t be happening.”

On the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, a Number 10 party became so loud that security guards told those present to leave the building and go into garden.

“So everyone grabbed all the drinks, the food, everything, and went into the garden,” one source said. “We all sat around the tables drinking. People stayed the night there.”

3) Wine Time Fridays

Parties were a weekly occurrence throughout lockdown, according to the programme, with “wine time Fridays” - so much so that an invite marked “WTF” was in the Number 10 press team’s diaries.

“We saw it as our own bubble,” one insider told Panorama.

The weekly gatherings “became a lifeline during the pandemic, particularly if you were sort of living alone on Fridays to have this chance to, work at your desk and drink together”, said one eyewitness.

Another attendee said “it was not unusual for the prime minister to be there” because “he seemed to be a believer in letting his staff let their hair down a little bit”.

Boris Johnson makes a toast at Lee Cain's leaving party. (Photo: ITV)
Boris Johnson makes a toast at Lee Cain's leaving party. (Photo: ITV)

Boris Johnson makes a toast at Lee Cain's leaving party. (Photo: ITV)

4) Bins overflowing with empty bottles

Insiders who spoke to the programme describe how they would arrive for work the morning after a get-together to find the detritus left behind from a party the night before.

One former official said they turned up in Number 10 to find “a mess - there were bottles, empties, rubbish - in the bin, but overflowing - or indeed sometimes left on the table”.

5) People sitting on each other’s laps at Lee Cain’s leaving party

Strict social distancing rules were routinely ignored inside No. 10, according to the programme.

At the now notorious leaving party for Lee Cain, the former Downing Street director of communications, at which the prime minister was pictured holding a drink and making a speech, dozens of revellers were present.

“There were about 30 people, if not more, in a room,” one person present said. Everyone was stood shoulder to shoulder, some people on each other’s laps…one or two people.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.


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