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Boris Johnson pictured hosting Number 10 Christmas quiz ‘in breach of Covid laws’

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Boris Johnson faces more questions over a Downing Street quiz he hosted while London was under Tier 2 “no mixing” restrictions

Image: mirrorpix.com)

Boris Johnson was last night accused of personally breaking Covid laws by hosting a Christmas quiz in No10 last year.

The Prime Minister was pictured on screen, sitting underneath a portrait of Margaret Thatcher as he read out questions.

A source said many staff huddled by computers, conferring on questions and knocking back fizz, wine and beer from a local Tesco Metro.

In one office, the insider said, there were four teams, each made up of six people.

It was December 15 – three days before a gathering now being probed – and the PM was flanked by two members of his top team, although they were not drinking.

One was wearing a Santa hat and the other draped in tinsel.

On Dec 15 last year, 459 people died from coronavirus, while another 33,828 were infected.

London was then under Tier 2 regulations banning any social mixing between households – which Mr Johnson appeared to have breached by mixing with the aides.

Official guidance also stated: “You must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.”

Boris Johnson hosting a round of a Christmas Quiz from Number 10
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The revelations seriously undermine Downing Street’s claims last week that no parties had taken place in No10.

Mr Johnson said last week: “I can tell you guidelines were followed at all times. I’ve satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”

But after details emerged of the quiz, a source claimed: “It was just part of the culture. The PM turned a blind eye. He seemed totally comfortable with gatherings.”

The Mirror understands staff were invited to the virtual quiz, raising funds for charity, a couple of weeks earlier.

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Our source claimed dozens signed up to take part online but that at 6.30pm on the day many staff decided to take part from No10 instead.

Teams from the PM’s private office, the policy unit and press office were among those taking part.

They answered questions on subjects ranging from the history of Downing Street to lyrics of Christmas tunes.

Many staff decided to do the ‘virtual quiz’ from their offices
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A source said of staff’s decision to do the quiz in Downing St: “Everybody decided it would be more fun. It would be difficult to take part in such a large virtual quiz from home.

“No work was discussed, it wasn’t a business event. Nobody was working that evening, it was purely a social event.”

Halfway through the quiz, the PM surprised staff by turning up on screen as quizmaster for one round lasting between 10 and 15 minutes.

He asked questions including: “At her press conference, how many Covid tests did Priti Patel say had been conducted?”

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The PM announced he was giving staff a small gift of a bronze lapel pin of the No10 door – and they were handed out that night.

Sources said the quiz finished at around 9pm, but staff stayed on for two hours or so drinking and chatting. Most stayed in their offices, but a few alledgedly moved around the building to mingle with colleagues in a further apparent breach of the rules. A source said: “Nobody ever questioned whether this was against the rules or if we shouldn’t be doing this.

“We all just went ahead and did it. At the time we didn’t even click that what we were doing was so severely wrong. I’ve realised now that it was actually pretty outrageous.

“We felt like we were working extremely hard and working a lot of hours. Looking back, I accept we shouldn’t have done that.”

At the time of the quiz, no person could participate in a gathering of two or more people from different households
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Allegra Stratton delivering her tearful resignation statement on Wednesday
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PA)

Under the Covid regulations at the time, no person could participate in a gathering indoors of two or more people from other households apart from in limited circumstances – including that the gathering was “reasonably necessary for work”.

A legal expert has suggested that No 10 would struggle to claim that a social gathering like a Christmas quiz would fall into that category – even if the PM had just broken off from work for a short time to take part.

Some lawyers have suggested No10 could be somehow exempt from the Covid regulations because it is “crown property”.

But Adam Wagner, an expert on Covid regulations, said: “I’m not convinced. I think the exemption was about government buildings, not people.”

Last week, the Metropolitan Police said it would not investigate allegations of Downing Street festive events “at this time”.

Scotland Yard said this was due to an “absence of evidence” and its policy not to investigate retrospective breaches of coronavirus regulations.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, Angela Rayner said: “While the rules said that people shouldn’t have Christmas parties at work and Britons across the country were doing the right thing, Boris Johnson was instead happy to preside over a culture of disregard for the rules at the heart of government.

“Despite repeated denials of parties in Number 10, it now transpires that there were numerous parties, gatherings and the Prime Minister even took part in a festive quiz.

“Boris Johnson really believes it’s one rule for him, another for everyone else. He is a man unfit to lead this country.”

It follows a raft of allegations about festive celebrations last year
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Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)

Mr Johnson’s credibility has been pushed to the brink by public fury over Mirror revelations about rule-busting Government parties.

He finally instructed Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate reports of a bash on December 18 where dozens of No10 staff crammed in “cheek by jowl”, drinks were said to have been taken and gifts exchanged. Other events are also now being scrutinised.

A No10 spokesman said of the new revelations: “This was a virtual quiz. Downing Street staff were often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response so those who were in the office for work may have attended virtually from their desks.

“The Prime Minister briefly took part virtually in a quiz to thank staff for their hard work throughout the year.”

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