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Head of UK COVID-19 lockdown parties probe drops out over own event

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By Reuters
Head of UK COVID-19 lockdown parties probe drops out over own event
Head of UK COVID-19 lockdown parties probe drops out over own event   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p><span class="caps">LONDON</span> -Britain’s top civil servant Simon Case has stepped down from leading an investigation into alleged parties last year in government offices in breach of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 lockdowns after an event was held in his own office.</p> <p>“To ensure the ongoing investigation retains public confidence the Cabinet Secretary has recused himself for the remainder of the process,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said.</p> <p>“The work will be concluded by Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.</p> <p>“She will ascertain the facts and present her findings to the Prime Minister.”</p> <p>A video emerged earlier this month showing Johnson’s staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned, resulting in condemnation from political opponents and the public.</p> <p>Johnson, who has said he had been assured <span class="caps">COVID</span> rules were not broken and that there had been no party, asked Case to investigate.</p> <p>The alleged parties have dismayed voters who were told by government to sacrifice their own Christmas events last year.</p> <p>Johnson’s Conservatives lost an election in a previous stronghold on Friday, stepping up pressure from his own lawmakers to reform his operation in Number 10.</p> <p>The victorious centrist Liberal Democrat candidate in the North Shropshire seat, Helen Morgan, said voters had said loudly and clearly: “Boris Johnson, the party is over.”</p> <p>Case stepped down after the Guido Fawkes website said two events were held in his private office last December. The <span class="caps">BBC</span> said invitations were sent out for one of the events titled “Christmas Party!”</p> <p>A government spokesperson quoted by the <span class="caps">BBC</span> said office staff had taken part in a virtual quiz, with a small number joining from their desks.</p> <p>Case played no part in the event, but had walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office, the spokesperson added, according to the <span class="caps">BBC</span>.</p> </div>