The Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph
At the time the country was in public mourning after the death of Prince Philip. Flags were flown at half mast on government buildings.Social distancing rules were so restrictive that when the Queen attended her husband's funeral the next day dressed in black she sat alone in the pews. But that Friday night, as The Telegraph revealed, two leaving events - which could only be described as parties - for Downing Street staff took place. There was excessive drinking. One group in the basement saw a senior No 10 staffer act as DJ on a laptop as some aides danced, spilling wine on the floor. Staffers gathered late into the night in the Downing Street garden. One had a go on the child’s swing belonging to the Prime Minister’s son Wilf Johnson and broke it. Alcohol had been provided by a staffer who took a suitcase to a supermarket nearby Number 10 and filled it with wine bottles. In some brilliant reporting on the scandal from across the media, this became a defining image. At the time Covid rules set by Johnson banned mixing indoors except for within one household. Outdoors people could only meet in groups of six, or two households. A second story published days later revealed new details. Texts showed the partying had lasted until at least 1am. A photo seen by the paper showed aides crowded together in the basement. At one point wine had been spilled over an office printer. What happened that night only became public knowledge because of The Telegraph’s reporting. The revelations triggered an immediate outcry, including among Tory MPs. Johnson - who had not attended the events - apologised for what happened. Cabinet ministers criticised the behaviour. No 10 also conveyed an apology to Buckingham Palace. The investigations that followed confirmed the accuracy of The Telegraph’s original reporting. Civil servant Sue Gray’s Partygate report noted socialising in the Downing Street basement, wine and beer being purchased, the child’s garden swing being damaged and the gathering continuing into the early hours. The last departure, she revealed, was at 4.20am. The Metropolitan Police issued Fixed Penalty Notices to some of the attendees, meaning they concluded that the gathering had broken Covid laws.