Boris Johnson (Photo: ITV/PA)
Boris Johnson told the Commons there was “no” party in Downing Street on November 13, 2020.
But on Monday afternoon, ITV published photographs showing the prime minister raising a glass while stood behind a table littered with wine bottles and food.
The broadcaster said the pictures were taken at a leaving party for then-director of communications Lee Cain.
The photographs show at least eight people standing close together. Eight days earlier, Johnson had imposed England’s second national lockdown.
Under the rules only two people from different households were allowed to mix indoors – unless it was for work purposes.
On December 8, 2021, Johnson was asked directly in the Commons about what happened on November 13.
Boris Johnson speaking in the Commons (Photo: Theyworkforyou.com)
“Can the prime minister tell the House whether there was a party in Downing Street on 13 November?” asks Labour’s Catherine West
“No, but I’m sure whatever happened the guidance... and the rules were followed at all times,” says the PM
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 8, 2021
This matters because Johnson is facing an investigation into whether he misled parliament.
The ministerial code states that “ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation”.
But the key word there is “knowingly” – Johnson’s defence has been that he did not think anything he did broke the laws that he had imposed on the country.
Theresa May, the former prime minister, recently said of her successor’s defence: “So either he had not read the rules, did not understand them, or didn’t think the rules applied to No.10. Which was it?”
The publication of the photos comes ahead of the release of Sue Gray’s report into the partygate scandal.
It is expected the report, which is thought to include photos of lockdown-breaking gatherings in No.10 and Whitehall, will be made public as soon as Tuesday.
It comes after the Metropolitan Police’s own separate inquiry concluded.
A total of 83 people were fined for events spanning eight separate days, including the PM, his wife Carrie Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak.
They all received one fixed penalty notice for an event for Johnson’s 56th birthday in June 2020, when indoor mixing was banned.
Johnson was not handed a fine for the November 13 event pictured in the photographs obtained by ITV.
A No.10 spokesperson said said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.
“The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.