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‘Extremely unlikely’ that Boris Johnson did not approve Downing Street party, claims former standards chief

It is “extremely unlikely” that Boris Johnson did not approve a party allegedly held at Downing Street, a former parliamentary standards chief has claimed.

Mr Johnson was one of more than 100 members of staff invited to a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden on May 20 at the height of lockdown restrictions, it emerged last night.

Dr Hannah White, the deputy director for the Institute of Government and a former chairman of the committee for standards in public life, said it was “pretty surprising” an email had been sent placing the invite on record.

“[It’s from] the Principal Private Secretary, one of the key officials working for the Prime Minister,” she told the Today programme. “And I think it’s true to say that it’s extremely unlikely that he could have invited a hundred people to a party in the garden at Downing Street without the assent of the Prime Minister.

“I think he would have to have done [that] and there were witnesses saying he was there, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to claim that he didn’t know about this particular breach of the lockdown rules.”

The Prime Minister had, “technically speaking”, not misled Parliament with previous comments about parties in December 2020, Dr White added. It came as Edward Argar, the health minister, said he could understand the “hurt, upset and anger” around reports of parties during lockdown.

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