The Guardian newspaper published a photo of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and more than a dozen others drinking wine in the garden of his Downing Street residence, allegedly taken during a COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020.
- The picture shows Boris Johnson and others sitting around tables with wine and cheese
- Mr Johnson’s office said there was no social gathering that day
- The prime minister is under pressure over a number of lockdown-related scandals
In response, Mr. Johnson’s office said there were staff meetings in the garden that day.
The prime minister has been hit by a number of media reports of alleged Christmas celebrations in government offices, including his own, which took place last year when Britain fell into tight COVID-19 lockdown and has ordered an investigation.
The reports have dismayed voters who were advised by the government last year to sacrifice their own Christmas events and who are threatened with the possibility of curbing their Christmas plans for the second year in a row as the Omicron variant spreads quickly.
The picture released by the Guardian is said to have been taken in May 2020, not long after Mr Johnson was discharged from the hospital where he spent several nights in intensive care with COVID-19.
It shows Mr Johnson with his wife, Carrie, who appears to be holding their newborn son, and two other people at a table on a terrace in the Downing Street garden with cheese and wine.
There is another table nearby with four other people, and a short distance away is a larger group on the lawn around a table with bottles of wine.
The Guardian said the photo was shared with him after Mr Johnson’s office denied last week that there was a social event that day.
The prime minister’s office said instead that Downing Street staff were gardening afternoons and evenings.
When asked about the picture, a Downing Street spokesman said garden gatherings were common at this time of year.
“Work meetings often take place in the Downing Street garden during the summer months,” they said.
“On that occasion there were staff meetings after a press conference number 10.
“Downing Street is both the prime minister’s home and workplace. The Prime Minister’s wife lives in number 10 and therefore legally uses the garden. “
On the day the photo was allegedly taken, then Health Secretary Matt Hancock had given a press conference urging people to stick to the rules and not take advantage of the good weekend weather to meet in groups, reported the newspaper.
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