BRITISH PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has apologised after footage of his staff joking about a Christmas party which allegedly took place last December leaked.
The party is reported to have taken place in No 10 Downing Street on 18 December with 40-50 people in attendance, when such activities were not allowed under Covid-19 restrictions. It is not suggested that the Prime Minister himself attended.
A video has since leaked apparently showing aides joking about the party.
The footage is of a rehearsal on 22 December for Downing Street's proposed daily TV media briefings, which then-spokesperson for the Prime Minister Allegra Stratton was set to front before they were later abandoned.
"I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?" she is asked.
She hesitates before again being asked if the Prime Minister would condone such a party.
Ms Hatton jokes that it was just "cheese and wine", and that "this fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced."
Boris Johnson has now organised an investigation into the party and has apologised "unreservedly" for offence caused by the footage of the mock conference.
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson said:
"I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, and I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip.
"I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives."
However, he said that he has been repeatedly assured since the allegations emerged "that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured."
The controversy comes as the UK is considering a new set of coronavirus restrictions, known as Plan B, including the introduction of vaccine passports to reduce rising case numbers and orders to work from home.
Currently, about 1,000 people a day are being infected with the Omicron variant of the virus.
Downing Street has said no final decisions have been made but ministers and officials convened today, Wednesday, to move to plan B and to begin imposing some restrictions as early as tonight.
A press conference will likely be held late in the afternoon after ministers sign off on the measures.