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Downing Street garden photo: No 10 says wine and cheese gathering during first lockdown was ‘work meeting’

Dominic Raab has said the gathering was ‘consistent with the rules at the time’

A new photo which has come to light seems to show Boris Johnson and several members of his staff at a gathering in the Downing Street garden in May last year, during the first lockdown.

The photograph, obtained by the Guardian, was taken on 15 May 2020, and shows Boris Johnson along with his wife Carrie and 17 other members of staff, with bottles of wine and a cheeseboard visible.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson is set to face fresh questions over Downing Street parties held last year in spite of Covid regulations after a photo obtained by the Guardian seems to show another party, this time in the Number 10 garden, during the first lockdown last year
  • The picture shows a cheese board and bottle of wine in front of Boris Johnson, who is sat at a table next to his then-fiance Carrie and other members of staff, elsewhere in the garden there is a drinks table set up and three separate groups of people 
  • The photo was taken on 15 May, the same day that the Government warned people they could meet up with just one other person from another household in an outdoor, public place, so long as they remained 2m apart
  • News of this gathering in May 2020 comes after a series of allegations against the prime minister and several other government figures that parties and gatherings were held in Downing Street prior to and during the Christmas period, despite Covid regulations which barred the public from doing the same
  • Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, has been tasked with leading an inquiry into rule-breaking parties in Downing Street last year, after cabinet secretary Simon Case stepped back from the investigation following revelations that a party had been held in his office

What’s been said?

On Sunday, a No 10 spokesperson told The Guardian: “As we said last week, work meetings often take place in the Downing Street garden in the summer months. On this occasion there were staff meetings after a No 10 press conference.

“Downing Street is the Prime Minister’s home as well as his workplace. The Prime Minister’s wife lives in No 10 and therefore also legitimately uses the garden.”

Following the emergence of the photographs, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner Tweeted: “I guess staff meetings look a bit different if you went to Eton?

“Enough is enough. Tell us the truth about what was going on in Downing Street from the very beginning immediately @BorisJohnson.”

Matt Hancock on 15 May 2020, the day the photograph was allegedly taken: “People can now spend time outdoors and exercise as often as you like – and you can meet one other person from outside your household in an outdoor, public place. But please keep two metres apart.”

He added: “Please stick with the rules, keep an eye on your family and don’t take risks.”