Downing Street staff were drinking so much during lockdowns that they brought in a fridge for weekly “wine-time Fridays”, it has been alleged.
Images obtained by the Daily Mirror showed pictures of a wine fridge, which could hold up to 34 bottles, being delivered to No10.
It is alleged that staff took it in turns to visit the local Tesco Metro to stock up on alcohol, before keeping it cool in the fridge.
Earlier this week the Telegraph revealed that No 10 staff used a suitcase to transport alcohol from the shop to a party the night before Prince Philip’s funeral where the Queen mourned the death of her husband alone.
At the time of the so-called “wine-time Fridays”, rules banned two or more people from different households meeting indoors unless for work purposes.
It is believed that these events were scheduled into the electronic calendars of around 50 staff in Downing Street between 4pm and 7pm, which, despite beginning before restrictions were introduced, continued while much of the UK followed coronavirus rules.
Sources told the paper that gatherings were encouraged by the Prime Minister in order to “let off a bit of steam”.
One source reportedly said: “Boris used to stop by for a chat while they had a drink. It was on the way up to his flat and the door was usually open. He knew about it and encouraged it.“
Another added: “He could see everyone sitting there drinking as he walked up.
“He would come in and say ‘Hello everyone had a hard week? Letting off some steam? Oh great’.
“The idea that he didn’t know there were drinks is total nonsense. If the PM tells you to ‘let off steam’, he’s basically saying this is fine.”
It was also reported that the gatherings would often go on as late as midnight with as many as two dozen aides drinking wine and beer, and playing games such as Pictionary.
The revelations on Friday prompted an apology from James Slack, whose leaving party was held before Prince Philip’s funeral.
No10 also offered an apology to the Queen for the events taking place during a period of national mourning.
A No10 spokesperson responded to the Mirror’s revelations by saying: “There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting and the purpose with reference to adherence to the guidance at the time. The findings will be made public in due course.”