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Everything You Need To Know About The Carrie Johnson ‘Party’ Allegations

today30 May 2022 4

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Fresh partygate allegations surrounding Boris Johnson’s wife are threatening to derail his premiership just as he desperately tries to get back on track.

Leaked text messages suggest there was a second gathering in the prime minister’s Downing Street flat during lockdown held by his wife on his birthday.

Carrie Johnson is accused of holding the event on June 19, 2020, which was not mentioned in the Sue Gray Partygate report – sparking accusations of a cover-up.

Carrie’s spokesperson insists that Gray had been made aware of the texts, but the Labour Party is calling for an investigation.

Here HuffPost UK takes you through the new allegations and what might happen next.

Boris Johnson and Carrie stand in Downing Street to clap for carers to recognise and support NHS workers and carers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Boris Johnson and Carrie stand in Downing Street to clap for carers to recognise and support NHS workers and carers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Victoria Jones – PA Images via Getty Images

What Allegedly Happened?

The claims centre on the prime minister’s birthday, on June 19, 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when indoor mixing was banned.

Earlier that day Boris Johnson attended his own surprise birthday bash in the cabinet room, complete with sandwiches, cake and booze.

Attendees including Carrie, chancellor Rishi Sunak and the PM were all handed £50 fixed-penalty notices for the breach.

Details of the PM’s 56th birthday bash were also described in the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

However, allegations have since emerged that the festivities did not end there.

The birthday party for which Boris Johnson received a fine
The birthday party for which Boris Johnson received a fine

Findings of the Second Permanent Secretary’s Investigation

According to The Sunday Times, there is possible evidence of a second gathering taking place a few hours later involving Carrie in the Downing Street flat and “several friends”.

The event was not investigated by Gray, the newspaper said, despite her team being informed of it in January.

The paper claims an aide has messages sent by Carrie at around 6.15pm appearing to notify her husband, after his aide informed her the PM was coming up to the residence, that she was in the No.11 flat “with an unspecified number of male friends”.

The Telegraph claims the event was attended by at least two male friends, both of them special advisers.

The paper claims that her text message read: “Great. I am already here with the gays,” – an affectionate reference to her gay male friends.

However, Carrie had no formal position in government so it is uncertain what the work purpose could be.

The anonymous aide has reportedly since written to cabinet secretary Simon Case to inform him of the alleged gathering.

Sue Gray and Boris Johnson
Sue Gray and Boris Johnson

HuffPost UK

Why Didn’t Sue Gray Investigate?

The existence of the texts was made known to the Gray inquiry in January, according to reports.

The aide declined to forward the messages on, but said they were prepared to go to the Cabinet Office and show them to inquiry officials in person.

The aide also said they agreed to supply them to the Met Police, which was conducting an investigation.

However, the Cabinet Office has seriously disputed this version of events and sources suggested the individual did not offer to bring the messages in. Instead, their email exchange was forwarded to the police once the Operation Hillman inquiry started.

A Cabinet Office source told The Telegraph: “The individual did not offer to bring the messages into the Cabinet Office, so there was no chance for the investigation team to read them.”

The aide later came back to Gray’s team but the Cabinet Office said the probe had concluded by the time she approached them a second time.

Boris Johnson and wife Carrie Johnson after delivering his keynote speech during the Conservative Party conference.
Boris Johnson and wife Carrie Johnson after delivering his keynote speech during the Conservative Party conference.

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

What Does Carrie Johnson Say?

A spokesman for Carrie said Gray was aware of the exchanges as part of her exhaustive inquiry into alleged breaches.

“Staff were given ample opportunity to present evidence including these messages and all relevant information was passed to the Metropolitan Police for investigation,” they added.

“The lunchtime gathering in the cabinet room on June 19, 2020, was subsequently found to be in breach and a fixed penalty notice was issued to Mrs Johnson among others, for which she apologised unreservedly and promptly paid the fine.”

What Is Labour Saying?

Labour is demanding that the prime minister account for his “whereabouts” on his 56th birthday amid claims he might have attended a second “potentially illegal” gathering that day.

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, has written to Case calling on him to release correspondence that relates to an alleged evening meet-up.

She told the head of the civil service: “It is crucial that you now advise the prime minister to come clean about his involvement in this apparently rule-breaking gathering.

“Given the public interest at stake, I request that you make public his correspondence pertaining to this event and his whereabouts on the date of Friday June 19 2020 and publish the relevant messages you have received, as well as handing them over to the Privileges Committee to consider as part of their investigation.”

Rayner also asked whether Johnson had “notified” Scotland Yard “of his presence” at a gathering on the evening in question.

She told Case that Downing Street had previously been asked about the evening birthday claims and had branded them “totally untrue”.

The senior opposition figure questioned who authorised that response and whether it would be “retracted on the basis that it was itself either misleading or false”.

Labour’s Lisa Nandy also criticised the drinking culture in No.10 following the revelations.

Angela Rayner, Deputy leader of the Labour Party
Angela Rayner, Deputy leader of the Labour Party

Cameron Smith via Getty Images

What Will Happen Next?

The Commons privileges committee, investigating the PM for misleading the House of Commons, may decide to investigate.

It might mean Carrie could be summoned to give evidence to MPs over this new gathering.

The committee may also decide to look into a so-called “Abba party” on November 13, 2020, when officials claimed to hear songs blaring out from the PM’s flat the evening aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain quit.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who is standing aside as chair of the committee, told Sky News: “I’m sure the committee will want to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”

According to the BBC’s Chris Mason the committee will be able to demand documents and witnesses as part of their work that could take until October.

Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster

Andrew Aitchison via Getty Images

What Is The Government Saying?

Technology minister Chris Philp has said it is not “immediately obvious” that there should be an investigation into an alleged second event hosted by Carrie.

Asked on Sky News if the alleged gatherings should be investigated, he replied: “I think we have had an unbelievably comprehensive set of investigations going on now for a period of nearly six months.

“We have had obviously the Sue Gray investigation published last week. And she interviewed, goodness knows, dozens or possibly even hundreds of people in the course of her investigation, looked at emails, messages, and everything else.

“And we have had the Metropolitan Police investigation, which again, has gone over and gone on over a number of months.

“And they conducted that with full police powers.

“So, having had two separate investigations, including by the police over many months, it is not immediately obvious to me that we need any more investigations when this has probably been the most… rightly been, the most thoroughly investigated set of incidents in recent times.”

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