‘Partygate’: A timeline of Boris Johnson’s latest scandal

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced repeated claims that he, his staff and civil servants broke the law at a time when millions of Britons were observing Covid restrictions.

Johnson defended some of the events — quickly dubbed “partygate” since they were reported in newspapers from late last year —  as work gatherings.

  • May 15, 2020: Johnson is pictured with wine and cheese alongside his now-wife Carrie and some 20 staff in the Downing Street garden, according to a leaked photograph to The Guardian.
  • May 20, 2020: Johnson’s senior aide Martin Reynolds invites staff “to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening”.

ITV News, which obtained the emailed invitation, said 40 staff ended up in the garden that evening, eating picnic food and drinking.

Johnson and Carrie both attended, according to several reports, despite some staffers expressing qualms that the gathering breached lockdown rules.

The prime minister later “categorically” denied knowing about the event beforehand or receiving warnings it breached the rules he set for the public.

  • November 13, 2020: Controversial adviser Dominic Cummings is fired. He alleges that a raucous party took place that night in Boris and Carrie Johnson’s Downing Street apartment.

England was then in a second lockdown, and such indoor gatherings forbidden.

  • November 27, 2020: Johnson gives a speech at Downing Street drinks held for the departure of another aide. The Daily Mirror reported that up to 50 people were crammed into a room.
  • December 14, 2020: Plates of buffet food and drinks were on offer in a photograph revealed by The Times newspaper showing Conservative staff in festive mood at party headquarters.

The party says the gathering was “unauthorised” and disciplined some of those present.

At the time, London was in a regional “tier” of restrictions that had replaced the November lockdown, which banned indoor socialising between households.

December 15, 2020: Johnson was photographed sitting between two staffers at a Number 10 Christmas Zoom quiz. He insists it was a work gathering.

  • December 17, 2020: A social event is alleged to have taken place attended by staff in the Cabinet Office.

Senior civil servant Simon Case, who was initially tasked with investigating other party claims, stepped down over claims that his staff had broken the rules on indoor social mixing.

It was later reported that another event took place in the department on the same day to mark the departure of Kate Josephs, the former head of the Covid taskforce, for which she later apologised.

  • December 18, 2020: Another party was held in Downing Street, according to the Daily Mirror, prompting government denials.

But a video then obtained by ITV News showed Johnson’s then-press secretary Allegra Stratton joking about the event at a mock news conference.

She later resigned, in a tearful public statement.

  • April 16, 2021: Two “boozy” leaving events took place the night before the funeral for Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, while the country was in a period of official mourning, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Johnson was not believed to have been present at the events, at which alcohol was smuggled into Downing Street in a suitcase.

But his former director of communications James Slack —  one of those leaving —  apologised for the “anger and hurt” caused.

Downing Street later apologised to the Queen.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse works from worldwide. AFP Photo's official Twitter account. Tweeting news and features from Agence France-Presse's global photo network Agence France Presse has over 120540 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be firestarter of global economic...

Developed countries could do much to help counterparts in the developing world weather the current storm

A female condom can take sexual pleasure to new heights

Internal condoms not only offer protection, they increase the user’s control and the rings tickle the clitoris and penis

Zuma corruption trial on hold as court waits for word...

The Pietermaritzburg high court was surprised by the delay in Bloemfontein but said it would likely not be the last

SA’s endemic corruption requires a ‘biting’ response

Beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) can help tackle corruption, reduce investment risk and improve national and global governance, but implementation remains ‘a sad story’

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…