London’s Metropolitan Police are now investigating 12 of the 16 gatherings in the report for possible criminal violations. The police said in a statement that they are working “at pace” and reviewing more than 300 images and more than 500 pages of information.
Johnson, meanwhile, is hanging on for his political life and under pressure from within his own Conservative Party. The prime minister has been directly linked to at least six of the parties, according to British media. He said in Parliament on Tuesday that he would “of course comply with the law, but I’ve got to wait for the process to be concluded.”
Here’s a list of the gatherings in question.
Wine and cheese in the garden
The Guardian published a photograph of a “wine-and-cheese party” that took place in the garden of Downing Street on May 15, 2020, when gatherings of more than two people were banned in outdoor public places. Visible in the picture are the prime minister, his wife, 17 staff members, and bottles of wine. Downing Street said staffers were discussing work. Although that official explanation has been unsatisfying for many, this event is not among the 12 that police decided to pursue.
‘Bring your own booze’ party
Johnson’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, sent an email to dozens of staffers, encouraging them to “bring your own booze” to a party on May 20, 2020 — at a time when the public was banned by law from meeting up with more than one person outside households. Johnson admitted attending the outdoor gathering “for 25 minutes.” “In hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside, and I should have found some other way to thank them,” the prime minister said.
Farewell for a Downing Street aide
One of the new events identified in Gray’s report was a gathering at the Cabinet Office on June 18, 2020, reportedly a send-off for Hannah Young, who had been working as a private secretary at Number 10. Indoor social gatherings were banned at the time. Downing Street refused to comment on the new allegation.
ITV News reported that Johnson’s wife, Carrie, helped organize an afternoon surprise party attended by about 30 people on June 19, 2020, for the prime minister’s birthday. Guests reportedly sang “Happy Birthday” as Johnson was presented with a cake. That same evening, the broadcaster said, family and friends gathered inside the Johnson residence. A Downing Street spokesperson told The Washington Post that staff members “gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than 10 minutes.” The spokesman said Johnson hosted a small number of family members outside that evening. Gray’s report makes note of only the Cabinet room gathering.
Abba-themed party at 11 Downing Street
Two of the gatherings police are investigating occurred at Downing Street on Nov. 13, 2020. British media reported Tuesday that Johnson was present at one of the gatherings, an Abba-themed party where guests blasted “The Winner Takes It All.” It was allegedly hosted by Johnson’s wife, Carrie, and her friends to bid good riddance that day to top adviser Dominic Cummings, the Telegraph reported. London was under Tier 3 restrictions at the time, preventing households from mixing indoors. Asked last year if he would confirm a party on that date, Johnson told Parliament: “No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”
Another leaving party
On Nov. 27, 2020, Johnson reportedly remarked on how crowded the room inside Downing Street was before giving a speech at what the Guardian described as an impromptu farewell celebration for aide Cleo Watson. Although it is mentioned in Gray’s report, this gathering was ruled out by police for their investigation of possible criminal violations.
Drinks and canapés at the Education Department
The Department for Education admitted holding a Christmas party on Dec. 10, 2020, with staff members mingling over drinks and canapés inside the building after work — despite social mixing between households being barred. “The gathering was used to thank those staff for their efforts during the pandemic,” a spokeswoman said, adding that, in hindsight, it would have been “better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time.” Police determined that this one didn’t warrant further investigation.
A Christmas quiz
On Dec. 15, 2020, Downing Street hosted a Christmas quiz for staffers. A photo published by the Mirror showed the prime minister inside No. 10 reading out questions alongside one aide draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat. At the time, social mixing among households was banned. Downing Street said Johnson “briefly took part virtually” to thank staff members for their work during the health crisis. Police are not investigating this event.
Cabinet staff parties
On Dec. 17, 2020, while England was in lockdown, staff members from the Cabinet Office gathered to say goodbye to Kate Josephs, a former senior civil servant who led the government’s coronavirus task force. Josephs has since apologized.
In a separate gathering on the same day, staffers for Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended an event titled a “Christmas Party.” A government spokesperson said it was a “virtual quiz” and that Case didn’t take part but walked through the office. When reports of the gathering emerged, Case stepped down from leading the inquiry into the Downing Street parties.
The Gray report noted a third gathering in Downing Street that day, held to celebrate the departure of a government official, whom the Daily Telegraph identified as defense adviser Steve Higham. Johnson was allegedly “there for a few minutes to thank him for his service,” according to a report in the Daily Mirror. The Ministry of Defense declined to comment.
Downing Street Christmas party
On Dec. 18, 2020, Downing Street staffers reportedly gathered to exchange gifts, sip wine and eat cheese before their Christmas break. Downing Street denied that there was a Christmas party. But aide Allegra Stratton resigned in December 2021 after the leak of video showing her joking about such a party.
Gray’s report — which because of the ongoing police investigation included few details — revealed that an event took place inside 10 Downing Street on Jan. 14, 2021, “on the departure of two No 10 private secretaries.” In a subsequent article, the Guardian dubbed it “a prosecco-fuelled leaving do” and said Johnson gave a speech and stayed for about five minutes. The event was held during England’s third lockdown, which confined citizens to their homes and prevented them from mixing with others.
Parties during mourning
On the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, on April 16, staffers held two parties for departing colleagues at Downing Street. The next day, Queen Elizabeth II was photographed mourning her husband of seven decades by herself, because she was abiding by the coronavirus restrictions put in place by Johnson’s government. Downing Street apologized to Buckingham Palace for the “deeply regrettable” events that took place amid “national mourning” and during a time that indoor mixing was banned.