A Partygate video appearing to show Tory staff drinking, dancing and joking about “bending” Covid lockdown rules has emerged, piling further pressure on the party just days after Boris Johnson was found to have lied about rules being followed.
The video, said to have been taken on 14 December, 2020, when socialising inside was banned in parts of the UK, shows for the first time, staff joking about their Christmas party at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) in London breaking the rules, according to The Mirror.
The party was organised by the campaign team behind Shaun Bailey’s ultimately failed bid to become mayor of London and “formal disciplinary action” was taken against four staff members over the “unauthorised” event.
The party itself had been previously documented when photos first emerged last year, and police dismissed an investigation citing a lack of evidence at the time, but the video has added further evidence of the scale of the celebrations within the Conservative party.
One attendee in the footage can be heard saying: “As long as we don’t stream that we’re like, bending the rules,” before laughing, while a man and woman hold hands and dance.
At least 24 guests were reportedly at the gathering which was held just a few days before Mr Johnson’s 19 December announcement that Tier 4 Covid curbs would be implemented. This put London and the southeast of England under severe restrictions which meant many could not see their families on Christmas Day.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” he said just five days after the party.
The video has been slammed by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner. She told The Mirror: “Revellers openly mocked the rules the British people followed. The Tories think it’s one rule for them and one rule for everyone else.
“Instead of forcing them to face the consequences, Rishi Sunak has caved into Boris Johnson and chosen to reward them with honours. It’s a sickening insult.”
Former London mayor hopeful Mr Bailey was just last week made a Lord under Mr Johnson’s resignation honours.
The now Lord Bailey had left the party at the time the video was taken but Tory aide Ben Mallet is pictured holding a wine glass as “Fairytale of New York” plays in the background.
“Oh Christ,” a man says at one point, “Are you filming this?” Another responded “It’s for party, erm, party use.”
Another then says: “As long as we are not streaming that we’re, like, bending the rules.”
It is unclear exactly which Conservatives were at the party, or who leaked the footage.
The video will pile further pressure on the Tory party, which had hoped to put the Partygate scandal behind them after the much-anticipated privileges committee report into whether Boris Johnson lied to parliament over the Partygate scandal was finally published last week.
It found there was “no precedent” for the scale of Mr Johnson’s lied and found he misled parliament in five different ways. The cross-party group of MPs said they’d have recommended a 90-day suspension had he not already quit the Commons to spite their sanction just days before the report’s release.
Mr Johnson’s resignation followed former culture secretary and close ally Nadine Dorries stepping down after not being made a peer. Nigel Adams, also a supporter of Mr Johnson then followed, in what is fast-becoming a reported conflict within the party. On Thursday, Ms Dorries said MPs who support the privileges committee’s findings were “fundamentally not” Conservative and would be “held to account”.
The latest video comes as The Independent revealed on Friday that the details in the Partygate report were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the raucous drinking culture and blatant rule-breaking throughout the pandemic.
A whistleblower revealed that Mr Johnson was “happy” to have his staff drinking and oversaw a culture of endemic rule-breaking so widespread that it put No 10 at odds with the rest of the country.
A CCHQ spokesperson said of the 14 December party: “Senior CCHQ staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of Matthew Parker Street organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of 14 December 2020.”
Lord Bailey – not to be confused with the Tory MP for West Bromwich West also called Shaun Bailey – has been contacted for a response, as has CCHQ.