Pictures ‘show Boris Johnson at No 10 parties’ – and Sue Gray could publish them

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Images of Boris Johnson attending Downing Street gatherings during lockdown could be published as part of the Sue Gray inquiry into the 'partygate' scandal
Images of Boris Johnson attending Downing Street gatherings during lockdown could be published as part of the Sue Gray inquiry into the 'partygate' scandal

Images of Boris Johnson attending Downing Street gatherings during lockdown could be published as part of the Sue Gray inquiry into the "partygate" scandal, it has emerged.

Cabinet Office investigators are said to have been handed photographic evidence by staff members who were interviewed as part of the probe into multiple parties held across Whitehall.

It was claimed that the photographs included pictures of Mr Johnson, as well as people standing close together with wine bottles.

According to Sky News, the images of the Prime Minister could be released should Ms Gray, the senior civil servant in charge of the inquiry, decide to include them in her report.

It comes after Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s former senior aide, claimed there were “lots of pictures of the parties which will inevitably get out.”

Mr Cummings, who has given written evidence to Ms Gray’s inquiry, last week said that “many other photos” were of gatherings which took place after he left No 10, adding that he would say more when the “report is published”.

Sources involved in the process also told The Telegraph on Tuesday that photographs had been passed to the investigation team.

Another, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they had been asked during their interview whether they had photographs on their mobile phones or other devices of the gatherings they attended.

However, they suggested that some staff who were questioned may have chosen to delete or withhold images, meaning the true extent of photographic evidence may not have been uncovered.

It emerged after a Cabinet minister acknowledged earlier in the day that the birthday party held for Mr Johnson on June 19 2020 had been “unwise” and “clearly” should not have happened.

In a sign of the growing unease on the government front bench, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, appeared to admit that “mistakes were made”, adding that he was “furious with everybody who broke the rules”.

However, in a bid to play down the Prime Minister’s personal involvement in the latest incident, Mr Shapps said it was disputed how many people attended, and that the surprise gathering had not been organised by the Prime Minister's wife, Carrie Johnson, as reported.

He was responding to the latest allegations, first reported by ITV News, that Mrs Johnson had organised the surprise get-together complete with a chorus of "happy birthday" in the Cabinet room.

Picnic food from M&S was eaten and Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson's principal private secretary, was said to have been present alongside Jack Doyle, No 10's director of communications and Shelley Williams-Walker, its head of operations .

Lulu Lytle, the Johnsons' interior designer, also attended, although she claimed she was only present "briefly" while waiting to talk to Mr Johnson about the refurbishments she was carrying out at the couple's flat above No 11.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, also inadvertently walked in as the gathering was ending, having been due to attend a strategy meeting that had been scheduled in the room that afternoon.

Social gatherings indoors were forbidden under lockdown laws at the time, with a relaxation of the regulations permitting gatherings of up to six people to take place outside.

Transport Secretary defends PM

Defending Mr Johnson on Tuesday, Mr Shapps told Sky News: "I think we can be pretty clear that the Prime Minister didn't present the cake to himself.

"These are staff he would have been working with and was working with all day long, and will have been many a time in the same room with them working on the response to coronavirus.

"They come in, give him a cake, I understand I think it lasted for 10 minutes and that was it."

Separately, the Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters: “This was a brief moment. I think the Prime Minister was there for less than 10 minutes.

“It was in between the Prime Minister returning from a visit and before he started another meeting. It wasn’t a specific meeting in itself, it was on the edges of a work meeting.”

However, the defence was given short shrift by Baroness Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader, who wrote on Twitter: "By coincidence, my partner shares a birthday with the Prime Minister (19th June)," she tweeted.

"We marked it in 2020 by inviting one other household to sit outside, socially distanced, in our garden.

"It didn't occur to us - literally couldn't conceive - that we would act outside the rules."

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