A leaked email has suggested more than 100 employees from No.10 were invited to Downing Street garden drinks while coronavirus restrictions were in place in 2020.
Invitees were asked, according to an ITV report, to “bring your own booze” for the alleged event on May 20 2020, which came five days after another event where the prime minister and his wife Carrie Johnson were pictured with Downing Street officials having wine and cheese in the garden.
ITV says around 40 staff gathered in the garden that evening, including Boris Johnson and his wife.
A day earlier, The Sunday Times cited three sources stating Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, emailed officials with an invite adding “BYOB”, meaning bring your own bottle to the gathering.
ITV said the email from Reynolds states: “After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
Labour has accused Johnson of having “no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us”.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “Boris Johnson has consistently shown that he has no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us. He is trying to get officials to take the fall for his own mistakes, but he sets the tone for the way Downing Street and the rest of government operates.
“At the time this party took place, key workers on the frontline were working round the clock to keep us all safe, people suffered loneliness and loss in unimaginably tough circumstances and for the majority of the country our freedom was limited to a daily walk.
“Labour has welcomed Sue Gray’s inquiry, but we need confirmation that this latest revelation, and any other parties not yet revealed by press investigations, will be covered by her probe.”
Johnson earlier dodged a question on whether he attended a May 20 2020 party in Downing Street during the lockdown.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating the May 20 event as part of her inquiry into numerous allegations of rule-breaking events being held in No 10 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked if he and his wife attended, Johnson said: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”
Pressed on whether he had been interviewed by Gray, he said: “All that is a subject for investigation by Sue Gray.”
The prime Minister imposed England’s first lockdown to combat Covid-19 in March 2020 and it was not until June 1 that groups of up to six people were allowed to meet outdoors.
The email from Reynolds relates to an event said to have taken place on May 20 2020.
Allegations of that gathering emerged last week when Dominic Cummings, a former senior aide to Johnson, said he had warned at the time the “socially distanced drinks” were likely to be against the rules and “should not happen”.
Human rights lawyer Adam Wagner, who interprets coronavirus regulations on Twitter for the public, said the alleged event looked “unlikely to be legal for attendees”.
“Being outside the home was illegal at the time unless (the only potentially relevant exception) it was for the need to work,” Wagner posted on social media.
“‘Socially distanced drinks’ / ‘BYOB’ don’t sound like work.”
The Cabinet Office official has already confirmed she is investigating the May 20 event as part of her inquiry, along with a separate May 15 2020 garden gathering, which was revealed by a leaked photo showing the prime minister and staff sat around a table with cheese and wine.
Hannah Brady, a spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said it made her “sick” to think No 10 staff “partied” in the days after her father’s death.
“My Dad died just four days before this email was sent out, he was only 55 and was a fit and healthy key worker,” she said in a statement.
“Those days will stay with me for the rest of my life – just like the families of the 353 people that died that day, my family couldn’t even get a hug from our friends.
“To think that whilst it was happening Boris Johnson was making the ‘most of the weather’ and throwing a party for 100 people is truly beyond belief.”
No 10 said it would not be commenting on the allegations while Gray’s probe is under way.