Boris Johnson’s camp slammed Rita Ora’s lockdown birthday dinner 6 months after Downing Street’s ‘BYOB party’

Rita was slammed for having a party in lockdown in 2020 (Picture: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

In November 2020, six months after Boris Johnson attended a ‘BYOB gathering’ at Downing Street, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister scolded celebrities, including Rita Ora, for holding events in lockdown.

Rita apologised amid the backlash that followed when it emerged that she had held a birthday dinner at a restaurant in Notting Hill when people weren’t permitted to meet with others outside their household indoors.

However, recently Downing Street has been hit with several allegations gatherings were held at Number 10, when the country was similarly being told not to socialise indoors with anyone outside their own households and to only meet outdoors in limited groups.

Mr Johnson has faced calls to resign from within his own party this week after admitting he attended a gathering which potentially broke his own lockdown laws.

The PM previously sought to avoid confirming his presence at any gathering but was forced to on Wednesday following the emergence of written evidence a ‘BYOB’ party was organised in the Downing Street garden in May 2020,  several months before Rita’s dinner.

The invitation to the ‘bring your own booze’ party was sent to 100 people by Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds, according to a leaked email.

Mr Johnson attended a gathering at Downing St, but said it was a work event (Picture: AFP)

During a remarkable Commons appearance, he admitted he had attended for 25 minutes to ‘thank groups of staff’ as employees drank together.

In a further blow, last night it was revealed Number 10 staff held a boozy gathering on April 16, 2021, on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. It’s alleged one individual working in the PM’s office was sent to the Co-op on the Strand ‘with a suitcase’ to get wine, eyewitnesses have claimed to The Telegraph, ahead of a leaving do.

However, at the time of Rita’s party in 2020, a No 10 spokesperson told reporters ‘it’s important everybody in society sets an example by following the rules’.

They added ‘that is for every member of the public, including celebrities.’

It’s important everybody in society sets an example by following the rules…that is for every member of the public, including celebrities

Asked about Rita’s party, they said: ‘Throughout the pandemic we have been clear that it’s vital for everyone to abide by the rules in order to suppress the virus and reduce the transmission.

‘Enforcement… is for the police and they will enforce the rules in an appropriate and proportionate manner.’

The spokesperson added that ‘the prime minister has been clear of the need for everybody across the country to continue to abide by the rules in order to reduce the transmission of the virus…’

Rita profusely apologised for the ‘spur-of-the-moment’ private party at the Casa Cruz restaurant for her birthday, telling her Instagram followers she felt ‘particularly embarrassed’ because she has first-hand knowledge of ‘how hard people have worked to combat this terrible illness’.

Her team was said to have offered the restaurant £5,000 to ‘facilitate the event’ while most of its staff was on furlough, with former manager Scottie Bhattarai also admitting in a statement to police and the council to turning off the establishment’s CCTV cameras at the alleged request of ‘security for the entourage’.

A lawyer for the police at a local council hearing shortly afterwards branded the singer ‘selfish’ and referred to the event as ‘one of the most egregious and notorious’ breaches of lockdown.

Shortly after details of her party emerged, the I Will Never Let You Down chart-topper issued an apology and stated that she had voluntarily paid a £10,000 fine.

When it comes to the PM’s admission of attending the May 2020 gathering, the Metropolitan Police has declined to investigate.

Rita previously explained: ‘It was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK… I’m deeply sorry for breaking the rules and in turn understand that this puts people at risk.

‘This was a serious and inexcusable error of judgement. Given the restrictions, I realise how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility.

‘I feel particularly embarrassed knowing first-hand how hard people have worked to combat this terrible illness and being fully aware of the sacrifices that people and businesses have made to help keep us all safe.

‘Even though this won’t make it right, I want to sincerely apologise.’

Speaking in an interview with The Independent in December last year, when Rita was asked if she felt any regret about the gathering, she revealed: ‘I am incredibly embarrassed. I still feel embarrassed. And the regret…

‘It’s really hard for me to talk about it. I just wish I had made a different choice. It makes me sad because it’s something I wish had never happened.’

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She added: ‘People were making huge sacrifices at the time, and I let them down. And that hurts. It really hurts.’

When asked for further comment on the statement levelled at Rita Ora in 2020, in the wake of the No 10 ‘party’ claims, a Downing Street spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘As stated at lobby today and repeatedly this week it would be inappropriate to comment further on this while Sue Gray’s Inquiry is ongoing.’

Metro.co.uk contacted reps for Rita for comment.


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