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Dominic Raab Says Downing Street Christmas Party Claims Are "Unsubstantiated"

Dominic Raab

3 min read

Allegations that Christmas parties took place in Downing Street last year while the country was under strict lockdown restrictions are "unsubstantiated," Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has insisted.

Raab on Sunday morning told the BBC's Andrew Marr it was "impossible" to answer claims made by multiple sources that Downing Street breached its own indoor mixing rules around this time last year, because they were anonymous.

“I watch all of the flurry of accusations and counterclaims that are made but the truth is until there is something substantiated and more than the anonymous sources that you have described, we are chasing shadows," the senior Cabinet minister said.

Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to address claims that at least two parties took place in Downing Street over the last Christmas period while indoor mixing was banned under stringent lockdown rules.

The Mirror reported on Wednesday the Prime Minister made a speech at leaving party for a senior aide last November when the country was in lockdown. 

The same report said members of Johnson's team had another party in the days leading up to December 25 while London was under strict tier-three restrictions, where they consumed alcohol and played games.

Both parties were attended by 40 to 50 people and described as "cheek and jowl."

The BBC, Sky, and the Financial Times have also reported claims that parties took place in Downing Street in the run-up to last Christmas.

The Prime Minister refused to address the claims when asked earlier this week.

However, Raab sought to question the legitimacy of the allegations in his interview with Marr.

"Let’s just be clear about what we’re talking about here: something took place year ago and now unsubstantiated and anonymous claims are being made," he said.

"The Prime Minister has been crystal clear in relation to any circumstances and events in Downing Street that rules were complied with.”

The senior Cabiner minister said it was "clear that the rules were followed," but admitted that he was not present at the events in question.

"From all the sources you refer to, you have unsubstantiated claims being made and all on the basis of anonymous sources. It’s impossible to answer the charge on the basis, other than to say we are clear that the rules were followed."

Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, has written to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case calling for a formal investigation into possible breaches of coronavirus rules at the events held in Downing Street late last year.

Rayner in her letter said it was "difficult to understand" how the events could have been in keeping with restrictions at the time and asked whether he would refer potential breaches of the rules to the police.

The Metropolitan Police has said it is "considering" complaints from Labour MPs Neil Coyle and Barry Gardiner about the events, but said it does not usually look into "retrospective breaches of the COVID-19 regulations."

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