Covid figures reveal picture in Milton Keynes at time of No 10 'Christmas party'

Boris Johnson insists no rules were broken

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 12:12 pm

More than 400 people tested postive for Covid and one person died of the virus on the day of an alleged Downing Street Christmas party, figures reveal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an investigation into claims staff broke lockdown rules by holding a party at Number 10 last year, and told MPs he was “furious” about footage apparently showing aides joking about it.

Mr Johnson apologised for the offence caused by the leaked video but insisted he had been repeatedly assured “there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken” on December 18.

Boris Johnson

Figures from the UK coronavirus daily dashboard show one death occurred in Milton Keynes on that date last year and there were also 404 positive Covid-19 cases recorded in the borough.

And 300 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals across the South East on December 18 – among more than 1,600 throughout England.

The Prime Minister’s intervention followed a week of official insistence that no party took place when London was under Tier 3 restrictions – despite reports staff drank alcohol and exchanged Secret Santa gifts.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister’s apology raises more questions than answers as he had been “caught red-handed”.

He added: “Millions of people now think the Prime Minister was taking them for fools, that they were lied to. They are right aren’t they?”

Mr Johnson's adviser and former press secretary Allegra Stratton emotionally resigned after leaked footage showed her laughing as she appeared to rehearse answers to questions over a lockdown-busting Christmas party.

The video from No 10’s £2.6 million press briefing room, which is reported to be from December 22 last year, refers to a party on “Friday” – the same day The Daily Mirror reported there was a staff party where games were played, food and drinks were served, and revelries went on past midnight.

At this time, coronavirus restrictions were being reintroduced across many parts of the UK ahead of Christmas amid fears over the emergence of the 'Delta' variant.

Mr Johnson agreed that any evidence uncovered about parties in Downing Street would be handed over to police.

Statistics published by the National Police Chiefs' Council reveal a total of 77 fixed penalty notices were issued by Thames Valley Police for breaches of Covid-19-related laws between November 17 and December 20 last year.

They included two for holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

And by December 22 – the day the leaked video was apparently filmed – separate figures from the Department of Health and Social Care reveal that more than a quarter of care homes in England were no longer permitting residents to receive visitors as Covid-19 infection levels rose across the country.

In Milton Keynes, five care homes had done the same by December 22 – around a quarter of all those in the area.