Lockdown breach | 

Woman whose mum died of Covid says Boris Johnson must resign after latest party pic

Ruth Burke (82) died alone in hospital in March 2020 while her children waited at home

Party: Boris Johnson makes a toast in the image released by ITV News. Credit: ITV News

Garrett Hargan

The daughter of one of the first people to die of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland has said an image showing Boris Johnson drinking at Downing Street during lockdown demonstrates the British Prime Minister thinks he’s above the law.

The photo published by ITV News yesterday shows Johnson raising a glass at a leaving party in No 10 during pandemic restrictions, sparking fresh allegations he lied to Parliament.

He is standing behind a table littered with wine bottles and food.

The picture was taken at a leaving party for director of communications Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, eight days after Johnson imposed England’s second national coronavirus lockdown.

For four weeks people were banned from social mixing, other than to meet one person outside.

There were other participants out of shot, despite the rules at the time only allowing two people from different households to mix indoors.

The faces of the others in the picture have been blurred to protect their identities.

Brenda Doherty, whose mother was the fourth local person to die of Covid, believes the image calls into question what Johnson told Parliament.

She added if the PM doesn’t resign, he should be forced to step aside.

People who lost loved ones during the pandemic missed out on so much, the Newtownabbey woman explained.

Her mother Ruth Burke (82) died alone in hospital in March 2020 while her children waited at home due to stringent infection control measures introduced to stop the spread of the virus.

Ms Doherty said: “Loved ones died alone. No proper funeral or celebration of their life. Why? Because we were in lockdown.

“We abided by the restrictions set down by the Government.

“Watching the news and seeing the photo of the Prime Minister clearly having a drink makes me so angry.

“We will never get back what we missed out on. It would seem the Prime Minister is exempt from the full force of the law.

“The small fine he has received is an insult to all who lost their lives and those of us that live daily with the heartache of grief.

“The Prime Minister manages to blag his way out of his wrongdoings. Leaders are meant to lead — clearly the Prime Minister has failed.”

Labour said the image showed there was “no doubt now” Johnson “lied” to Parliament when he repeatedly insisted all rules had been followed in Downing Street.

He was not fined by the Metropolitan Police over the event seen in the image, which shows at least nine people in close proximity, along with six bottles of wine.

Fresh questions have now been asked of the Met as to why it did not fine the Prime Minister while others attending received a fixed penalty notice.

Johnson has repeated claims all the rules were adhered to in Downing Street and he had been unaware of any law-breaking parties.

An investigation is due to begin shortly by Parliament’s Privileges Committee to examine whether the Prime Minister had knowingly misled MPs by denying any knowledge of the parties and thereby breaking the ministerial code, something that is considered to be a resigning matter.

The development comes as top civil servant Sue Gray is due to publish an internal report into ‘Partygate’.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for Johnson to be removed from office.

The Foyle MP said: “While ordinary, decent people were giving up the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family who died during the pandemic, suspending their own grief for others, Boris Johnson wouldn’t even give up the opportunity for a glass of wine. That is the measure of this Prime Minister.”

Downing Street declined to comment on the photograph.

It added that the Prime Minister will speak after the Gray report is published in the coming days.

A spokeswoman said: “The Cabinet Office and the Metropolitan Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.

“The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”

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