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18th Jun 2023

Everyone is saying the same thing about the new video showing Tory staff at lockdown Xmas party

Steve Hopkins

‘I’ll go out on a limb and say it looks kinda illegal’

A new video showing Tory Party workers at a Christmas party during lockdown in 2020 is “completely out of order”, Michael Gove has admitted amid calls for police to again look at pressing charges.

The Mirror on Sunday revealed the unseen footage showing staff drinking and dancing in breach of lockdown rules, prompting one commenter to suggest if police “don’t bring charges now then they’re corrupt”.

The party, at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London on 14 December was attended by at least 24 revellers, the Mirror reported, including two named on former prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.

In the footage, two dancers even twirl past a sign saying “Please keep your distance”.

The gathering included Shaun Bailey, who was running a campaign to be the mayor of London at the time, and Ben Mallet, the campaign director for the Tory’s 2021 campaign in the capital. Bailey, who was recently given a peerage in Johnson’s resignation honours, is understood to have left before the video was taken. Mallet was given an OBE in the same honours list.

The Mirror previously released a photo from the party, which the Met investigated, but no further action was taken due to a lack of evidence.

Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Gove branded the party video “terrible” and said: “I just want to apologise to everyone really who, looking at that image, will think well these are people who are flouting the rules that were put in place to protect us all.”

He said the fact the party went ahead, while Brits were under strict lockdown rules, is “indefensible”, and he’s “sure the people there feel contrite – or I hope they do”.

The video comes as the Privileges Committee on Thursday found that Johnson had knowingly misled parliament over partygate.

The Met Police said on Saturday that it is looking into the footage, with a spokeman saying: “We are aware of the footage and are considering it”

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