Published: 11:41, 08 December 2021
| Updated: 16:23, 08 December 2021
Two women from Kent were fined for hosting a lockdown house party - just two days before a Christmas bash was reportedly held at Downing Street.
Police broke up the gathering in Lancaster Road, Canterbury, on December 16 last year - when the county was under Tier 3 Covid restrictions - and gave the offenders £200 fixed penalty notices.
Following the sting, Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix warned: "There will come a time when we will all be able to meet up with all our friends and family again and enjoy parties and other celebrations like we did before the pandemic.
"Until then, Kent Police officers will not hesitate to take action against those who flagrantly break the rules and put other people’s lives at risk."
But just two days later, and despite telling families they could not meet up over Christmas, the government is said to have held a festive party at Number 10.
In footage obtained by ITV News, the Prime Minister’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other political aides, were filmed joking about a “cheese and wine" evening that allegedly happened on December 18, 2020.
Ms Stratton is seen answering questions at a mock press conference about the alleged gathering – which is said to have been attended by dozens of colleagues despite the fact social mixing indoors was banned in London under Tier 3 restrictions.
KentOnline reporters have this morning visited Lancaster Road and other city streets where Canterbury residents were slapped with fines for lockdown parties, but found the residents - all said to have been students - have since moved elsewhere.
Last October, two teenagers became the first in Kent to be hit with £10,000 fines for breaching lockdown rules by holding a house party in Ulcombe Gardens, Canterbury.
The coming months would see hundreds more people hit with sizeable fines for breaking the rules.
A press release issued by police on February 3 stated that as of then, 1,343 fines had been issued across the county to those who breached Covid regulations.
Kent MPs have slammed the government following the footage leak.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said the controversy bore “all the hallmarks of another ‘Barnard Castle’ moment” – a reference to the Prime Minister’s former aide driving 260 miles during strict lockdown conditions last year.
“No 10 clearly has some serious questions to answer. Fast,” tweeted the North Thanet MP.
Speaking to Sky News, he said he wants Boris Johnson to say "there was no party and to say that on the record".
"If he says that, I will believe him," he said.
"Because to deliberately mislead the House, if that turns out to be the case, would be a resignation matter."
The county's only Labour MP Rosie Duffield has also condemned Boris Johnson, saying he should "treat the public with respect".
She said: "This latest development is upsetting. So many of my constituents could not visit their families last Christmas, some having to stay away whilst their loved ones were ill, whilst those in Number 10 were seemingly breaking the rules they were setting for everyone else.
"Because to deliberately mislead the House, if that turns out to be the case, would be a resignation matter..."
"The Prime Minister and those around him should take responsibility for their actions and treat the public with respect, not laugh at them."
Boris Johnson is expected to face questions over whether he has told the truth about an alleged lockdown-busting Christmas party in No 10 after leaked footage showed his aides joking about a festive gathering.
The Conservative Party leader will be under the spotlight at Prime Minister’s Questions today, with his opposite number likely to grill Mr Johnson for a second week running about what happened in Downing Street on December 18 last year.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are reviewing the leaked video in relation to “alleged breaches” of coronavirus regulations.
An NHS England staffer has said she is “incandescent” with anger at the video. She said she was working with Covid-19 patients that month, when her mother was admitted to her hospital following a fall.
“I can’t put enough words together right now as to how appalling that behaviour is..."
“To say I’m angry… I’m incandescent. It’s the disrespect, it’s the one rule for us and another rule for them, that’s what’s the worst,” the staffer said.
“I see Allegra Stratton laughing up there and I feel sick, I feel disrespected, (like) I’ve been taken for a mug.
“I can’t put enough words together right now as to how appalling that behaviour is. It should have consequences.”