At the time, due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, indoor social mixing was banned and no more than two people were allowed to meet outside.
The new images have led to a new wave of outrage from opposition lawmakers and some colleagues in Johnson’s own Conservative party.
According to a Downing Street official who spoke to BBC Panorama on condition of anonymity, the November 13 party was told that people were standing “shoulder to shoulder” and “sitting on each other’s laps”.
“There were about 30 people in a room, if not more. Each was standing shoulder to shoulder, some in each other’s laps. (…),” the official said in an interview broadcast Tuesday. When asked to confirm that some attendees were sitting on each other’s laps, the officer said “yes, one or two.”
“The prime minister was going to his flat and he came to give a speech for Lee Kane [Johnson’s former director of communications]. He just wanted to thank Lee for all his work. He gave a little speech about it, “the official added.
“No, but I’m sure no matter what, the guidelines were followed and the rules were always followed,” Johnson replied.
Deliberately misleading the House of Commons leads to a breach of the British government’s ministry code and usually to resignation.
When asked if Johnson had told Parliament that none of the lockdown rules had been broken, another official told Panorama anonymously: “We were watching it all live and we looked at each other in disbelief, ‘Why? Why is he denying this?’ When we were with him the whole time, we knew the rules were broken. We knew these parties were. I mean, it’s pretty clear that he lied in Parliament. [The parties] Was every week. The invitation to the event for Friday’s press office drink was simply nailed to the diary. “
Asked if there were weekly regular invitations to press office drinks on Friday night, the same official said: “Yes. Friday’s wine-time is Friday. Invitations that were on everyone’s calendar every Friday at 4pm.”
CNN contacted number 10 for comment on the BBC Panorama report.
Panorama asked No. 10 for an interview with Johnson or a senior member of the government but they refused, according to the program.
“Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he knows nothing about breaking the law – now there’s no doubt he’s lying,” said Angela Rainer, a Labor deputy leader. “The prime minister has insulted his office. He has made rules, and then broken them. The British people deserve better.”
Conservative MP Roger Gayle wrote on Twitter: “I believe the Prime Minister (House of Commons) has been distracted from the box. It is a matter of resignation.”
The images also prompted an investigation by the Metropolitan Police, whose Downing Street Party’s own investigation has delayed Gray’s investigation, after officers decided not to fine Johnson for the event seen in the latest images.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday that “it is important to explain why the police have come to their conclusion.” And former Conservative attorney general Dominic Greaves told the BBC that officials’ decision to clear Johnson of the incident was “incomprehensible”.
But Downing Street told CNN that police had access to photographs and other evidence during their investigation. They added in a statement: “The Mets have completed their investigation and Sue Gray will release her report the next day, where the Prime Minister will give a full speech in Parliament.”
Johnson has previously apologized for the lockdown party and promised to turn it into a Downing Street operation.
The scandal has tarnished Johnson’s position in the polls and put his job security at a disadvantage for months.
Conservative MPs have so far refused to trigger a no-confidence vote that could force Johnson out of office if passed. But a disappointing set of local election results last month, and two tough parliamentary by-elections scheduled for June, have maintained scrutiny over the leadership of the UK Prime Minister.
CNN’s Radina Gigova contributed to the report.