A woman whose mother’s funeral took place on the day of a lockdown cheese and wine party in Downing Street has said the disregard shown by those breaking the rules was “gobsmacking”.
Sharon Mair told the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry she felt “hurt and anger” that then prime minister Boris Johnson and staff were partying in London on May 15, 2020, while she could not even hug friends or family at the service to say farewell to her mother.
Mr Johnson was photographed sitting with his wife Carrie and staff at a table with wine and cheese in the No 10 garden that day.
Mrs Mair’s mother died in a care home on April 26, 2020 aged 83, and her funeral took place on May 15.
While we were saying goodbye to my mum and not even able to bring somebody into our back garden to have a cup of tea with us, those that were making the rules were breaking the rules
Only a small number of people could attend and the service was live-streamed on Zoom, with Mrs Mair’s youngest son among those watching as he was not able to attend.
Mrs Mair, whose husband and eldest son attended the funeral, told the inquiry: “As you can imagine, May 15 for us as a family, that was a really, really difficult and emotional day.
“We could not even have a cup of tea with people who had come and stood with us at the funeral, we couldn’t even hug them.
“Subsequently we found out that on May 15 in Downing Street, they had a cheese and wine pizza party, so while we were saying goodbye to my mum and not even able to bring somebody into our back garden to have a cup of tea with us, those that were making the rules were breaking the rules.
“The complete disregard for people that were going through one of the most cruel and emotional days is just gobsmacking.
“If you look at those two scenarios carefully, one you’ve got a family grieving following the rules, and at that point you weren’t allowed to meet a load of people, you weren’t allowed to have, I think it was more than one other person in your garden and provided they were like six foot away from you – and at exactly the same time as we were doing that there was a party being prepared in London to celebrate whatever it was they were celebrating on May 15, 2020.
“Normally you would hug friends and family at the end of a funeral and swap stories celebrating a life well lived, but that just could and did not happen with my mum’s funeral, yet it did happen on May 15 2020 in Downing Street.”
Mrs Mair’s mother, who is not being named for legal reasons, moved into a care home in late summer 2016 after she developed Alzheimer’s.
She said there was Covid-19 in the care home in spring 2020 but she does not know if her mother had it as she was never tested for it.
Mrs Mair said she found an apology from Mr Johnson “totally unacceptable”.
Giving evidence at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said: “Can I just say how glad I am to be at this inquiry and how sorry I am for the pain and the loss and the suffering of the Covid victims.”
Commenting on Mr Johnson’s words, Mrs Mair told the Scottish inquiry: “I find that, and I’m sure thousands of other Covid victims find that totally unacceptable, it’s a total disregard of his own rules.
“While we buried, cared for, people were left in isolation and we looked after loved ones, him and his party partied.”
The Scottish inquiry, taking place in Edinburgh before Lord Brailsford, who joined remotely on Wednesday, continues.