The prime minister and his wife Carrie were among around 40 people to attend a drinks event in the Downing Street garden during the UK’s first national COVID lockdown, Sky News understands.
In what has been revealed to have been a “bring your own booze” event on 20 May 2020, a Downing Street figure said both Mr Johnson and his then fiancee were present.
A Whitehall investigation is already underway into multiple allegations of coronavirus rule-breaking in both Number 10 and other government buildings, which was prompted by initial claims of Christmas parties in Downing Street in 2020.
The inquiry has since been widened to include two alleged events on 15 and 20 May, the latter of which was initially revealed by Dominic Cummings – the prime minister’s estranged former chief adviser.
A leaked email has now emerged from Martin Reynolds – a key aide to Boris Johnson – inviting staff to “make the most of the lovely weather” with “some socially distanced drinks”.
According to ITV News, who obtained the email, Mr Reynolds’ message was sent to more than 100 employees in Number 10, including the prime minister’s advisers, speechwriters and door staff.
The around 40 attendees are reported to have gathered in the garden that evening, on 20 May, to eat picnic food and drink.
At the time of the alleged 20 May event, Britons had only recently been allowed to meet with one person from another household outside as long as they remained two metres apart.
Mixing with multiple households was still banned.
The leaked email states: “Hi all,
“After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of this lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!
Doubts had already been cast over Mr Reynolds’ position in Number 10 following the initial claims of an event on 20 May.
A senior government source told Sky News: “Reynolds job was to protect staff who were looking to him to lead them through something nobody had ever done before, this is just a perfect example of how he failed at it.
“The public are right to be outraged at the one rule for them one rule for us, some people in Number 10 felt uncomfortable about it at the time, but the truth is nobody ever got to grips with working in Number 10 while the rest of the country were made to work from home.
“Reynolds didn’t protect people from the spread of COVID in the building and he and others didn’t think through the consequences of those actions.
“He was in charge of it all, he has to be held accountable for it.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Boris Johnson has consistently shown that he has no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us.
“He is trying to get officials to take the fall for his own mistakes, but he sets the tone for the way Downing Street and the rest of government operates.
“At the time this party took place, key workers on the frontline were working round the clock to keep us all safe, people suffered loneliness and loss in unimaginably tough circumstances and for the majority of the country our freedom was limited to a daily walk.”
Number 10 would not comment on the leaked email while the inquiry into multiple allegations of COVID rule-breaking in Downing Street and other government buildings is ongoing.
That inquiry is being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray.