Boris Johnson And Oliver Dowden's Auction Donation Goes Viral For All The Wrong Reasons

"Hugely valuable as a souvenir of partygate," read the note on the champagne bottle.
Boris Johnson signed a champagne bottle which Oliver Dowden then donated to a charity auction in Hertfordshire
Boris Johnson signed a champagne bottle which Oliver Dowden then donated to a charity auction in Hertfordshire
Getty

An auction donation from Oliver Dowden went viral on Friday as it appeared to completely misread the public’s current attitude towards the law-breaking in Downing Street.

Dowden, the MP for Hertsmere and the Conservative Party chairman, donated a champagne bottle signed by prime minister Boris Johnson for a local charity event which was held on Thursday night – and it was quickly perceived as a joke about the government’s breach of Covid rules during the partygate saga.

The description reads: “A bottle of champagne signed by Boris. Hugely valuable as a souvenir of partygate and the exemplary behaviour and morality of our dear leader.”

Just below this tongue-in-cheek message, the note adds: “Donated by Oliver Dowden.”

HuffPost UK understands that the minister had no prior knowledge of the message attached to the bottle which has since caused a stir on social media.

But, food critic Jay Rayner tweeted an image of this description on Friday morning alongside the following caption: “Perhaps you thought the Conservative Party took partygate seriously.”

Twitter users were furious, and Rayner’s message had amassed more than 18,000 likes less than two hours after he posted it.

But, many people did slightly misunderstand the descriptive note and believed that message itself had come from Dowden.

A spokesperson for the minister later cleared this up, telling HuffPost UK: “This item was donated in good faith several months ago for a local charity auction.

“Oliver Dowden had no prior knowledge of the description and this is obviously not his view.”

Dowden has previously said the partygate scandal should be “taken seriously” and that the events in Downing Street were “wrong and should not have happened”.

The minister is understood to be disappointed that the gift was turned into something political.

Hertfordshire Community Foundation also apologised for the note on Twitter this morning.

“This item was donated in good faith several months ago as part of a charity auction raising funds to support some of the country’s most vulnerable residents,” the tweet read. “The description was not drafted or seen by MP Oliver Dowden prior to the event.

“On behalf of the charity we apologise for any offence caused.”

The photo was published just as efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg dubbed partygate a “non-story” during his morning media rounds and a day after Scotland Yard confirmed that it has now issued more than 100 fines over the Downing Street lockdown gatherings.

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