Downing Street party: No 10 staff told to ‘clean up’ phones amid Christmas and garden event claims

Staff have said they felt under pressure to get rid of messages - reports say

Downing Street staff were told to “clean up their phones” and remove any messages that suggested lockdown parties had taken place, according to reports.

Employees were told that it was a “good idea” to remove information which could imply that there were parties in No 10, two sources claimed while speaking to The Independent.

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A No 10 spokesperson confirmed to NationalWorld: “We don’t recognise these claims.

“Staff were given clear guidance to retain any relevant information.

“As set out in the terms of reference, all staff are expected to fully cooperate with the investigation.”

The alleged Downing Street ‘BYOB’ party was thrown at the same time when the public could only meet one other person outside (image: Kim Mogg)

‘I was told to get rid of anything that could look bad’

A source told The Independent that one senior member of staff said to employees in December 2021 “to clean up their phone just in case” they had to hand it in to the investigation.

A second reportedly said: “I was being leant on [during the discussion with a senior colleague] and told to get rid of anything that could look bad.”

Both sources told the newspaper they felt under pressure to delete communications and images.

What Sue Gray’s inquiry will look at

Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who is investigating a series of reported parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall in the course of 2020, has been drafted in to determine what happened.

Personal phones will not be investigated by Ms Gray unless staff volunteer them but she can request work handsets.

During the first year of the pandemic, flat parties, garden parties and leaving bashes will all be under Ms Gray’s spotlight.

What Boris Johnson said about the Downing Street party

On 12 January, Boris Johnson apologised for attending the “bring your own booze” gathering in the garden of No 10 during England’s first lockdown in May 2020.

Boris Johnson told the Commons: “No 10 is a big department with a garden as an extension of the office which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus.

“When I went into that garden just after six on 20 May, 2020, to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event.”

Sir Keir Starmer told Boris Johnson the “party is over” as he asked the Prime Minister to resign before he is kicked out by voters or Tory MPs.

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