On the rooftop of 10 Downing Street, the Union flag was flying at half mast to mourn Prince Philip.
But downstairs, a staff member nicknamed “DJ” was playing ringtones from a laptop on a camera at a raucous party.
Painful new allegations about two employees leaving Doss at the same time surfaced at No. 10 on the night of Friday, April 16.
A 10th employee was reportedly sent to Co-Op on the Strand, a 10-minute walk away, to fill a bag with wine.
They were to take it back across Trafalgar Square, where the Lockdown Act prohibited the British from meeting in groups of more than six.
A source told The Mirror that they snuck into Number 10 through the back entrance, using a keypad to get in away from the vigilant police.
Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror)
Staff later moved into the fortified garden via Horse Guards Parade with high brick walls topped with security wires.
Try the hammock of the prime minister’s one-year-old son. They reportedly broke it in the process.
The rowdy staff was said to be saying goodbye to a photographer, at the same time as a separate leave of absence for Spin Chief James Slack.
The Prime Minister’s former spokesperson, who had left the Daily Mail to rise through the ranks to Director of Communications at No. 10, delivered a leaving speech elsewhere in the building, before the alleged bipartisan merger.
“I would like to apologize unreservedly for the outrage and the hurt he has caused,” Slack, now an executive at The Sun, said today.
“This event should not have happened when it happened,” he added.
This is an understatement.
The next day, the Queen sat alone at her husband’s funeral – one of the defining images of the pandemic.
And the staff’s behavior could not be more different than grieving for the Duke of Edinburgh, or their Covid laws.
A week earlier, the UK entered a period of “national mourning” and government communications were placed on a blackout.
There were no Covid press conferences, no ministerial interviews, and no press releases other than essential public health.
Ministers and civil servants were told that they should wear dark clothes and a black tie to any public occasion.
Not even the SAGE papers on Covid were published, with mourning ending at just 11.59pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, England was still in a third lockdown, with most gatherings illegal.
Desperate to contain Britons exhausted by the lockdown, Priti Patel has announced fines of £800 for people attending house parties – well above the £200 fine for attending most illegal gatherings. Organizers can be fined £10,000.
Four days before match number 10 kicks off, some of the rules in “Step 2” of the England roadmap have been relaxed.
But indoor social gatherings between different families were still illegal, and outdoors were limited to the rule of six.
All non-essential stores, hairdressers and public buildings such as bookstores are closed until No10 bash week.
Even people who met outdoors were cautioned against hugging, and to maintain a social distance of two meters wherever possible.
Concerns were also rising in the number 10 Indian variant of Covid – now known as Delta.
The day before the party, UK authorities announced the discovery of the first 77 cases of the B.1.617 variant in the UK.
Hours before the staff returned, the prime minister’s deputy spokesperson told reporters that Johnson’s visit to India had been scaled back.
A source told The Telegraph that it was against this backdrop that Staff 10 drank alcohol and danced “well after midnight”.
Assistant No. 10 Shelley Williams Walker was reportedly dubbed “DJ SWW” after playing tunes from a laptop downstairs.
The newspaper reported that a total of 30 people attended the two parties.
The number 10 shirt holder insists that Boris Johnson was not around at the time.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
According to the Telegraph, he left for Checkers, his country retreat, on Thursday – a day before the party.
He spent Prince Philip’s funeral at Grace Palace, and was watching it on TV to relieve his thirty-something.
His last engagement before that was a visit to a Naval College in Devon on Thursday, as part of the Duke’s homage.
However, in briefings to the press, spokesmen for the prime minister did not say that Johnson would be going to Checkers until Friday.
Even then, they said the PM would “be at Checkers tomorrow”, rather than claiming he had already been there for more than a day.
Suppose the No10 version of events is completely accurate, the next question is – when did the PM find out? And what did he do about it?
Andrew Parsons / No. 10 Downing Street)
Even if he didn’t know, Labor MP Jess Phillips said: “The fish rots from its head.
The culture in Downing Street is one of indifference and impunity. Do you think this would have happened under Theresa May? ”
Today’s minister said both parties are now under investigation by Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray.
The key to the defense would be whether employees believed it was work gatherings. But this defense appears to have been shattered by the bag of liquor, the tones on the laptop, and the broken hammock.
Most MPs retain their lawyers until Ms Gray reports – and there are fears the prime minister will get away with it.
The ministerial act suggests that he will make the final decision on any punishment for himself.
Mitt police have indicated they will only investigate if Ms Gray finds evidence of a crime – which The Times has reported she is unlikely to do.
Andrew Parsons / No. 10 Downing Street)
But even before the revelations last night, the Conservative Party Assembly had supported Johnson’s dismissal, and five of his MPs – including his Scottish leader – had called for him to resign.
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: “We have a Prime Minister up to his neck in scandals of his own making. He can no longer do his job but is so desperate to save his skin he is looking for anyone else to blame. He can’t hide. The Prime Minister needs to make a public statement regarding this latest revelation today, and his resignation soon followed.”
A No10 spokesperson said of Mr Slack’s farewell party: “On the last day this individual gave a farewell speech to thank every team for the work they’ve done to support him, both those who had to be in the office to work and on screen for those working from home.”
The spokesman declined to comment on the photographer’s departure to do.