Photographs have emerged showing the Prime Minister Boris Johnson appearing to enjoy a drinks party during lockdown.
The images obtained by ITV raise further questions on the Prime Minister’s claim he was not aware of rule-breaking at Downing Street during the pandemic.
A total of four images are reported to show the Prime Minister raising a glass during a leaving party on November 13, 2020 and with bottles of alcohol and party food on a table.
The event was said to be a gathering for Downing Street’s former Director of Communications, Lee Cain, and shows eight people standing closely together alongside the photographer.
ITV News has also reported that there were other participants out of shot, despite the rules at the time only allowing two people from different households to mix indoors.
The faces of the other people in the picture have been blurred out to protect their identities.
It’s further reported that fresh questions have now been asked of the Metropolitan Police, as to why they did not fine the Prime Minister while others attending received a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Mr Johnson has repeated claims that all the rules were adhered to in No 10 and that he had been unaware of any law-breaking parties.
An investigation is due to begin shortly by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, to examine whether the Prime Minister had knowingly misled MPs by denying any knowledge of the parties and thereby breaking the ministerial code, something that could be considered a resigning matter.
The latest development has also come as civil servant Sue Gray is due to publish an internal report into claims of Downing Street partying.
Reacting to the news, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called for the Prime Minister to be removed from office.
“These pictures of Boris Johnson having a booze up in Downing Street during some of the worst lockdown restrictions will be devastating for all those who made immense sacrifices to keep their friends and neighbours safe at an incredibly difficult time,” the Foyle MP said in a statement.
“While ordinary, decent people were giving up the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family who died during the pandemic, suspending their own grief for others, Boris Johnson wouldn’t even give up the opportunity for a glass of wine. That is the measure of this Prime Minister.”
A No 10 spokesperson told ITV: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs. The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”