Factbox: Hard to justify Downing Street lockdown parties, UK research finds

A police officer stands guard outside Downing Street in London, Britain, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Britain has published an internal investigation into possible breaches of lockdown rules by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team, following reports of more than a dozen social gatherings, including booze parties, in Downing. Street.

The content of the report was limited after the London Metropolitan Police announced it would launch a formal investigation into several of the meetings. read more


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“We conducted interviews with more than 70 people, some more than once, and examined relevant documentary and digital information, such as emails, Whatsapp messages, text messages, photographs, and building entry and exit records. This has also including searches of official records.”

Below are the key findings of the report:

“In the context of the pandemic, when the government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behavior surrounding these gatherings is hard to justify.”

“At least some of the meetings in question represent a serious breach not only of the high standards expected of those who work at the heart of government, but also of the standards expected of the entire British population.

At the time.”

“Sometimes it seems that very little thought was given to what was happening across the country when considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to proceed as they did.”

“Excessive alcohol consumption is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that all government departments have a clear and robust policy covering alcohol consumption in the workplace.”

“Use of the garden at 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and private residents of 10 and 11 Downing Street. During the pandemic, it was often used as an extension of the workplace as a Covid safest means of conducting group meetings in a ventilated space.

it was a sensible move that staff welcomed, but the garden was also used for gatherings without clear authorization or supervision. This was not appropriate. Any official access to the space, including for meetings, must be by invitation only and in a controlled environment.”

“Some staff members wanted to raise concerns about behaviors they witnessed at work, but sometimes felt unable to do so. No staff member should feel unable to report or challenge misconduct where it is present.”

“The number of staff working at 10 Downing Street has grown steadily in recent years… However, the structures that support the smooth running of Downing Street have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion. Leadership structures are fragmented and complicated, and this has sometimes led to blurred lines of responsibility Too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose primary role is direct support of the Prime Minister This needs to be addressed as a matter of priority “.

“There is significant learning to be drawn from these events that needs to be addressed immediately across government. This does not need to wait for law enforcement investigations to conclude.”

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Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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