Downing Street scandal: Further 'boozy' party involving Covid taskforce at No10 revealed, according to report
The former UK government head in charge of Covid rules held a ‘boozy’ leaving party during Christmas lockdown, an exclusive report has revealed.
‘Dozens’ of officials from the Cabinet Office’s Covid taskforce attended the event to mark the former head of the unit, Kate Josephs’ departure, according to a report in the The Telegraph.
The Telegraph’s source said the event was on December 17, 2020 while the country was still under Covid restrictions.
Those present are alleged to have gathered in the taskforce’s office in 70 Whitehall that evening, consuming alcohol and holding a party for Josephs.
At the time of the event, London had entered tier three restrictions, with parties banned and people banned from mixing indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble.
This meant no work Christmas parties or lunches were allowed, according to Government guidance.
Ms Josephs, who was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath in the Queen’s Birthday honours last June in recognition of her exemplary public service, left the Government the following day.
Sources confirmed that the event was now being investigated by Sue Gray as part of her investigation into multiple allegations of lockdown-breaking parties, which are now thought to total 14.
Ms Josephs, who is chief executive of Sheffield City Council, has since confirmed and apologised for the gathering.
She said she was co-operating with a probe by Sue Gray.
She said: “As people know I previously worked in the Cabinet Office Covid Taskforce where I was Director General from July 2020 to December 18, 2020.
“I have been cooperating fully with the Cabinet Office investigations and I do not want to pre-empt the findings of the investigation.
“However as Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council I am responsible for leading the organisation and working with partners across the city and region to support our Covid response and recovery.
“That is why I have decided to make a statement.
“On the evening of 17 December, I gathered with colleagues that were at work that day, with drinks, in our office in the Cabinet Office, to mark my leaving the Civil Service.
“I am truly sorry that I did this and for the anger that people will feel as a result. Sheffield has suffered greatly during this pandemic, and I apologise unreservedly.
“The specific facts of this event will be considered in the context of the Cabinet Office investigation. I did not attend any events at 10 Downing Street.
“I am grateful for the ongoing support of colleagues and partners and need now to ask that people allow the Cabinet Office to complete its investigation.
“I will not be able to respond to any further questions until the Cabinet Office investigation is complete.”
The news of the latest party comes as Downing Street has apologised to Buckingham Palace after it emerged parties were held in Number 10 the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.
The spokesman said: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 has apologised to the Palace.