Number 10 doesn't deny staff held 'wine-time Fridays' during covid restrictions 5 months ago

Number 10 doesn't deny staff held 'wine-time Fridays' during covid restrictions

A weekly event was allegedly added to the calendars of Number 10 staffers

Number 10 has not denied claims that regular drinking sessions took place at Downing Street throughout the pandemic, with "wine time Friday's" becoming a regular occasion for staff.

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What's more, according to reports in multiple outlets, it has been alleged that an electronic calendar invite was sent out to around 50 Number 10 staffers inviting them to regular drinking sessions which took place on Fridays between 4pm and 7pm.

These claims are the latest "partygate" allegations swirling around the conservative government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, angering many on social media who are calling for the PM's resignation.

While Number 10 has not denied these claims, it has reiterated its position regarding the impending arrival of the Whitehall investigation into any covid breaches which took place in Downing Street while the UK was in the throes of the pandemic and stringent lockdown restrictions.

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According to a report from the Daily Mirror, regular weekly drinking sessions were a tradition among Number 10 staff before the coronavirus pandemic took hold but continued while the country was battling rising covid numbers and tight lockdown rules.

A photograph captured on December 11 2020 appears to show a drinks fridge worth £142 being delivered through the back door of Downing Street. At this time, England was under 'Tier 2' restrictions which barred people from mixing with other households indoors.

Outdoors, a maximum of six people were permitted to mix from different households and working from home was recommended.

Further details of the Mirror's report suggest that some of these gatherings went on as late as midnight, with aides and staff drinking wine and playing board games such as Pictionary.

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Sources also told the paper that Johnson regularly encouraged employees to "let off steam" and that staff took a suitcase to a local off-licence to stock up on drinks on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral - which the Queen was forced to attend alone.

The paper also claims that the PM attended a small number of these events while indoor socialising was still banned - with one visit allegedly taking place on November 13 2020 while the UK was in the grip of a second national lockdown.

"Boris used to stop by for a chat while they had a drink," one unnamed source told the outlet.

"It was on the way up to his flat and the door was usually open. He knew about it and encouraged it."

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The news comes as the government faces a slew of party allegations which reportedly broke the lockdown rules that the public were encouraged to follow. On Friday, Number 10 apologised to the Queen for holding two parties the day before Prince Philip's funeral took place in April 2020.

A full investigation into these matters is currently taking place but findings aren't expected to be made available until next week.

"There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting and the purpose with reference to adherence to the guidance at the time," said a representative at Number 10.

"The findings will be made public in due course."

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