It has been revealed staff parties at Downing Street have been a regular occurrence during lockdown.
The Mirror newspaper reported that government officials regularly detained ‘wine time on Fridays’ with the approval of the Prime Minister – who believed it was a good way to “let off steam”.
The weekly drinks were so popular that staff even invested in a 142-pound drinks fridge to keep their bottles of white wine, prosecco and beer chilled.
READ ALSO: Revelers in Boris Johnson masks drink beers and sing ‘This is a labor event’ outside Downing Street.
The shocking report follows claims that staff took turns taking a suitcase to a local supermarket to stock up on alcohol for the parties – even the night before Prince Philip ‘s funeral.
Socially distanced drinks were also held at Downing Street in May 2020 – at the height of the pandemic, when people could only meet one person from another household outdoors.
It is reported that Friday wine time was a “long-standing Downing Street tradition”, including under previous governments, but that they continued after the introduction of Covid restrictions, banning indoor socializing between households.
That’s what sources claimed Helpers visited the local Tesco Metro in Westminster using a wheeled suitcase to stock the 34-bottle capacity fridge for a party – the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, at which the Queen was forced to sit alone due to Covid restrictions.
Two farewell parties were held at Downing Street on April 16 – one for Mr Johnson’s top spin doctor James Slack and one for the Prime Minister’s photographer.
Mr Slack, who left No10 last year to become deputy editor at The Sun, said the April 16, 2021 party “shouldn’t have happened at the time it did”.
He said in an email statement issued by The Sun’s editor, News UK: “I would like to apologize unreservedly for the anger and pain caused. This event should not have happened at the time it happened. I am very sorry and I take full responsibility.”
Downing Street has also apologized to the Queen.
A PM spokesman said: “It is deeply unfortunate that this came at a time of national mourning and No 10
has apologized to the palace.
“You heard from the Prime Minister this week, he recognized that No 10 should be held to the highest standards and take responsibility for things that we haven’t done right.”
Every week between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., “Winetime Fridays” were scheduled in the electronic calendars of around 50 No 10 employees.
The Times reports today that Sue Gray, the senior official investigating the litany of claims about lockdown-busting parties in the UK government, has been “completely caught off guard” by the latest revelations.
Sources said gatherings sometimes lasted until midnight, with as many as two dozen helpers drinking wine and beer and playing games such as Pictionary.
They were particularly popular from autumn 2020 to spring 2021, when staff were “tired” from the tight Covid restrictions, sources said.
However, their popularity waned when restrictions were lifted and employees no longer had to rely on them for social interaction.
According to The Telegraph, Mr Johnson is said to be trying to divert attention from Sue Gray’s investigation by lifting Plan B measures such as working from home guidance at the end of the month.
The restrictions, intended to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, were due to expire on January 26, subject to a review.
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