| Partygate: Boris Johnson says he takes responsibility for lockdown breaches

  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologized for lockdown breaches at his Downing Street Office.
  • This after a damning report found serious failings by staff at Downing Street in relation to gatherings held there.
  • The report included photographs from more than a dozen gatherings.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took responsibility for Covid-19 lockdown breaches at his Downing Street office and corrected a previous statement to parliament that guidance had been followed at all times.

“I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch … I have been appalled by some of the behavior,” he told lawmakers on Wednesday, adding he had been unaware of breaches at gatherings for departing staff members.

“My attendance at these moments, brief as it was, has not been found to be outside the rules. But clearly this was not the case for some of those gatherings after I had left and other gatherings when I was not even in the building. “

He renewed his apology for attending a daytime gathering on his birthday in June 2020, for which he was issued for a fine by the police.

The report by senior official Sue Gray did not specifically blame Johnson, but gave graphic details and included photographs from more than a dozen gatherings, some of which he attended.

READ | Johnson apologizes after report into Downing Street gatherings found ‘serious failings’

Johnson was among those fined over a party to celebrate his 56th birthday on 19 June 2020, though Gray said he was unaware of the gathering in advance.

“Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen,” the report said. “The senior leadership at the center, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.”

Johnson, who commissioned the report after revelations of boozy Downing Street events while social mixing was all but banned under stringent laws his government had made to curb Covid-19, said he was appalled by some of the behavior it had uncovered.

“I … am humbled and I have learned a lesson,” he told parliament to jeers from the opposition benches.

Gray’s interim findings were published in January, but most details were withheld until the end of a separate police inquiry, which concluded last week with 126 fines handed out.

READ | Could one of these politicians replace Boris Johnson?

Her full reports included emails and WhatsApp messages which showed many of the gatherings were planned in advance, with discussions on who would bring alcohol.

At one June 2020 event, Gray said there was “excessive alcohol consumption” that led to one person being sick and a fight between two others.

At another, held the night before the funeral for Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip in April 2021, individuals partied into the early hours and damaged a swing.

“Many will be dismayed that behavior of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of the government,” her report said. “The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behavior in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this.”

For months, evidence of the alcohol-fueled parties has dripped out into the media, forcing Johnson to apologize, change the team at his office and promise a reset to try to restore his authority.

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer said it was time for Johnson to quit.

The report laid bare “the rot that under this prime minister has spread … a government that believed that it was one rule for them and another rule for everyone else,” he told parliament. “You can’t be a lawmaker and a law-breaker.”

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