Boris Johnson denies being told Number 10 drinks was against the rules

The Prime Minister has categorically denied ever being warned that a gathering in Number 10 during lockdown would have broken rules, as he made his first public appearance in nearly a week.

By Caitlin Doherty
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 1:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 1:50 pm

Boris Johnson apologised for “the misjudgements that I’ve made” and said that “nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules” during a visit to a hospital in North London.

Asked if he had lied to Parliament over the parties, Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “No. I want to begin by repeating my apologies to everybody for the misjudgements that I’ve made, that we may have made in No 10 and beyond, whether in Downing Street or throughout the pandemic.

“Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules, that the event in question was something that … was not a work event, and as I said in the House of Commons when I went out into that garden I thought that I was attending a work event.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to staff during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in North London

Yesterday, former top Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings said he had warned against the “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden during the first lockdown.

Pushed further on the May 20 2020 event, which a senior member of Downing Street staff had labelled as ‘bring your own booze’ in an email, Mr Johnson said: “I can tell you categorically, categorically, that nobody told me and nobody said that this was something that was against the rules or was a breach of the Covid rules or we were doing something that wasn’t a work event because, frankly, I don’t think, I can’t imagine why on earth it would have gone ahead or why it would have been allowed to go ahead.

He added: “I do humbly apologise to people for misjudgements that were made. But that is the very, very best of my recollection about this event.”

Mr Johnson declined to say whether he would resign if it emerged he did intentionally mislead Parliament, instead pleading for patience ahead of senior civil servant Sue Gray delivering her verdict on the numerous lockdown-breaching events alleged to have happened in Downing Street since the start of the pandemic.

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This was his first public appearance after reducing his contacts from when No 10 said a family member tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

And the clip came as his Chancellor and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak did not give the Prime Minister his unwavering support, during a separate broadcast interview.

The potential successor as Tory leader abruptly ended the chat when pressed if he gives his full support to the Prime Minister.

He instead said he believes Mr Johnson is telling the truth and backs his request for “patience” during a Whitehall investigation by senior official Sue Gray.