Top government aid still in job after inviting more than 100 employees to lockdown party, Downing Street confirms

The senior Downing Street official, who invited more than 100 employees to a “Bring Your Own Schnapps” party in Garden No. 10 during the Covid restrictions, has the Prime Minister’s full confidence.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman confirmed that Martin Reynolds, the prime minister’s principal private secretary, “remains in his role” after ITV news revealed that he invited staff to the gathering during England’s first lockdown in May 2020.

When asked if Mr Johnson still had full confidence in any of his senior employees, the spokesman said he did.

The leaked email that was leaked on Monday reads: “Hi everyone, after an incredibly busy time, we thought it would be nice to take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy a few socially distant drinks in garden number 10 this evening.

“Please come to us from 6 p.m. and bring your own schnapps!”

Mr Johnson will avoid scrutiny of the allegation Tuesday as the purser General Michael Ellis has been dispatched to address an urgent matter in the House of Commons.

When asked what the Prime Minister was doing instead of answering himself, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said, “I don’t have the full diary in front of me at the moment, but it is obviously not uncommon for government ministers to answer such questions. ”

The Prime Minister refused to say whether he attended the meeting with his wife, Carrie, despite popular reports that he was there.

Downing Street officials have also refused to provide details of the allegations as they are being investigated by senior official Sue Gray as part of her investigation into allegations of the ban on parties in Whitehall and Downing Street.

Mr Ellis told MPs, “It will establish the facts and if misconduct is found, the necessary disciplinary action will be taken.

“As with any internal investigation, the matter would be referred to the Metropolitan Police and the Cabinet Office investigation suspended if evidence of a potentially criminal act emerges.”

Scotland Yard has announced that it is in contact with the Cabinet Office regarding the May 20, 2020 allegations.

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, whose urgent question resulted in Mr Ellis being dragged before MEPs, said: “It is incredibly disappointing, but not surprising, that the Prime Minister I asked this question is not here today , although he has no official obligations. ”.

“I think his absence speaks volumes, as does his grin in the media, the public has already drawn their own conclusions. He can run away, but he cannot hide. “

The commons exchange came after Health Secretary Edward Argar admitted the public was angry and hurt over the allegations.

England was subject to strict coronavirus restrictions that banned groups from socializing outdoors when Mr Reynolds sent the invitation to colleagues.

Mr Argar told the BBC: “I can completely understand why people who have lost loved ones or whose lives have been severely disrupted by these restrictions are angry and upset about these allegations.”

The dispute has raised further questions within the Tory ranks about the conduct of the Prime Minister and his closest circle.

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