Remember when Matt Hancock as health secretary told the nation to not take advantage of the “beautiful weather” during the first coronavirus lockdown? Well, that is exactly what one of Boris Johnson’s most senior officials was urging government aides to do. This has been revealed in a leaked email to ITV News.

The Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 members of staff to bring their own booze to Number 10 on 20 May 2020 – a time when only two people were allowed to socialise outdoors.

This was when the Metropolitan Police was warning citizens not to gather with more than one person outside their own household. The then culture secretary Oliver Dowden in a press conference held just two hours before the Downing Street bash reminded the public not to break the rules.  

A spokesperson for the PM has declined to comment in light of an ongoing internal inquiry into illicit parties involving officials, but the exposé proves that a gathering did indeed take place in Downing Street.

The ITV revelation opens the way for Sue Gray, charged with investigating the Number 10 parties, to summon Boris for a personal interview.