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Johnson under fire for leaked photo of Christmas quiz during COVID

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By Euronews
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in London's Downing Street, Wednesday Dec. 8, 2021.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in London's Downing Street, Wednesday Dec. 8, 2021.   -   Copyright  Adrian Dennis/Pool via AP   -  

Boris Johnson is under fire in the United Kingdom for allegedly breaking his own COVID-19 rules during last year's holiday season.

The UK prime minister was shown hosting a Christmas quiz alongside two colleagues in a photo published by the Sunday Mirror.

The photo was allegedly taken when London was under COVID-19 restrictions last December that prevented mixing between different households.

Under the Tier 2 rules, people were not allowed to socialise indoors with anyone outside of their household or support bubble. The rule of six applied for socialising outdoors.

Johnson was already under fire when a video leaked of a spokeswoman joking about a Downing Street Christmas gathering while practicing for press briefings. She later resigned over the video.

"I understand and share the anger up and down the country at staff seeming to make light of lockdown rules," Johnson told MPs last week.

"I was also furious to see that clip. I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression it gives."

Johnson said he had ordered Britain's top civil servant, Simon Case, to investigate, and said anyone found to have broken the rules would be disciplined.

Johnson's education secretary Nadhim Zahawi defended the prime minister after the new photo was leaked, stating he was working all hours to get through the pandemic.

"What do we see in that picture? We see a prime minister on a virtual quiz night for 10 to 15 minutes to thank his staff who by the way had no choice but to come in every single day," Zahawi told Sky News, adding that it was "respecting the lockdown rules".

But others said it showed that the rules last year were not followed at the highest level.

"Any member of the public is going to rightly demand that politicians not only comply with the rules that they impose on other people but that they're seen to comply with their spirit and it's pretty obvious now that that hasn't happened and that is a very bad position to be in," said Conservative MP Steve Baker on Sky News.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said it looked like Johnson was breaking the rules in the photo but that the alleged incident would need to be confirmed.

"It appears, we'll have to look into it but it's very hard to see how that's complied with the rules," Starmer said of the picture published in the Mirror.