Boris Johnson pictured hosting Downing Street virtual Christmas quiz last year

In the photo, Johnson appears on a screen, where he is seen in his office sitting near two other people, reading questions, according to The Mirror.

CNN has not independently verified the details about the trivia party, which according to the Mirror took place on December 15. A Downing Street spokesman said it was a “virtual questionnaire” and Johnson “participated virtually briefly” to thank the staff.

While the photo shows Johnson with only two others, a source told the Mirror that “many staff members huddled by computers, asked questions, and drank fizz, wine and beer,” a claim CNN has not verified. independently.

According to the official guide at that time, “although there are exemptions for work reasons, you should not have a lunch or Christmas party at work, where that is a mainly social activity and is not allowed by the rules of your level.”

London was under Level 2 restrictions at the time of the questionnaire, which said there should be no mix of households on the inside, aside from so-called support bubbles, and a maximum of six people on the outside.

An internal investigation led by Johnson’s cabinet secretary, the UK’s highest-ranking official, is already underway into three events from last year: an alleged party in Downing Street on 27 November; a meeting at the Department of Education on December 10; and an alleged part in No. 10 on December 18.

After speaking with various officials, CNN has established that the social gatherings took place in two days. – November 27 and December 18 – and a Daily Mirror report confirmed that Johnson himself made an impromptu speech at the former. Sources also confirmed reports that Santa’s secret gifts were exchanged on December 18.

Johnson and other top conservatives have denied any rules were broken.

Responding to the Mirror’s report on the alleged question party on December 15, Posted Saturday night, a Downing Street spokesperson told CNN in a statement: “This was a virtual questionnaire. Downing Street staff were often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response, for what those who were in the office for work may have virtually attended from their desks.

“The prime minister briefly participated in a virtual questionnaire to thank the staff for their hard work throughout the year,” the spokesman added.

When asked about the Mirror’s story on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi suggested that people could judge for themselves whether the rules were broken, adding that many staff members Downing Street were unable to work from home while responding to a national emergency.

“These are people who work together … There is no drink here. I don’t think there is a rule against recognizing Christmas with tinsel or with a hat,” he said.

“Ten to 15 minutes to thank his team that was working every hour, on a virtual screen at a pub quiz. I think people can make up their minds about it.”

Labor leader Keir Starmer told the same BBC program that the allegations related to the questionnaire needed to be analyzed, but “it is very difficult to see how the rules are being followed.”

Boris Johnson's press officer jokingly handed out awards at the Christmas party that broke the UK lockdown, reports say
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, tweeted that Johnson had “presided over a rule-breaking culture at the heart of government.”

She added: “Despite repeated refusals, it now turns out that there were numerous parties, meetings and the Prime Minister even participated in a festive contest.”

The Labor Party press office tweeted that on December 15 last year, Starmer had written to Johnson “asking him to urgently convene COBRA to discuss the worsening of the Covid situation.” The UK government’s Cobra committee is an interdepartmental group that can be convened in situations of national emergency.

“We now know that instead, the prime minister organized a Christmas test of violation of Covid rules that night,” the Labor Party tweet continued.

Johnson faced fierce criticism Wednesday after a leaked video recording obtained by CNN affiliate ITV News showed top Downing Street officials joking about an alleged Christmas party on December 18 last year.

On December 17, the government had sent a tweet warning “You must not have a Christmas lunch or Christmas party at work, where that is a primarily social activity.”

Johnson responded to the allegations, telling the House of Commons on Wednesday that he was “furious to see that clip,” adding: “I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations came up that there was no party and that the rules of the game were not broken. Covid “.

New complaints emerged on Thursday and Friday. Jack Doyle, then deputy communications director and now Johnson’s top press officer, addressed a gathering of “up to 50 people” at the Dec. 18 party and playfully presented award certificates to staff members, he reported. CNN affiliate ITV News on Thursday.

Downing Street and Doyle declined to comment with CNN while “a review is in progress.”

CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London, while Sugan Pokharel reported from Atlanta and George Engels from Uraguay. CNN’s Luke McGee and Sarah Dean contributed to this report.


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