Author Michael Rosen: No 10 drinks party is a smack in the face

The writer was in a coma at the time the event was alleged to have taken place.
Michael Rosen (Ian West/PA)

Michael Rosen (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Author Michael Rosen has said an alleged rule-breaking drinks party in Downing Street during the first national lockdown, when he was in a coma with Covid, is a “smack in the face”.

The former children’s laureate, who is still suffering the after-effects of the illness, including memory loss and aches and pains, said the event showed “contempt” for others and those in attendance at the party should come forward.

It has been alleged that a senior aide to Boris Johnson organised a “bring your own booze” event in the garden behind No 10 on May 20 2020 and a growing number of Tories have hit out at the Prime Minister amid fresh claims he attended.

The allegations are being examined by senior official Sue Gray as part of her investigation into claims of lockdown-busting parties in Whitehall and Downing Street.

Everybody was doing their best to abide by the Government instructions. So this feels like a smack in the face. It feels like contempt

Michael Rosen

Rosen, who said he is struggling to see out of one eye and hear out of one ear, told BBC News: “My first thought is the stories that my wife and family told me, that they were at home trying to maintain contact with me, get contact with me, because they couldn’t come in and see me, and of course, I could have died.

“We’ve just heard the awful stories all day of people who said goodbye to their loved ones from home on Zoom calls and phone calls.

“And the only way Emma (Rosen’s wife) could stay in touch with me was to talk to the nurses and the doctors.

“Everybody was doing their best to abide by the Government instructions. So this feels like a smack in the face. It feels like contempt. It feels awful.”

Asked if there should be a police investigation, Rosen said: “It’s a daft situation, isn’t it? Because obviously, all the people who were at the party know they were there.

“The police guard the entrance to 10 Downing Street, nobody can just stroll in. So they have the normal lists of parties, they’ve got a list of who’s allowed and who isn’t, so there’s a piece of paper, and they’ve the names on it that the police know.

“They must have known that there was a very good chance that it was a gathering of more than one, two or three people, whatever was the exact number allowed with that moment.

“So it’s all a bit mysterious, and how are we 18 months on from there and suddenly discovering it? I mean, it can’t be believed, really.”

He added: “Angela Rayner said ‘Does Boris Johnson know whether he was at the party or not?’

“I mean, he may not have known about it when he left given that booze was on offer, but the people who went to that party knew.

“They should be coming to the House of Commons and saying, ‘Yes guv, it’s a fair cop, I was at the party’.

“That would be just the reasonable thing to do, but it’s not happening.

“So this kind of kicking into the long grass that we’re all familiar with from inquiries of all sorts, while people work out their alibis, it really won’t do at all.

“It’s not to be believed, it’s a sense of contempt. On this occasion, it’s a contempt for the House of Commons. People ask questions, and then they get batted away.”

Rosen said the country is still dealing with “social trauma” as a result of the pandemic, adding: “This in a way is just the opposite of dealing with it.

“Instead of the equivalent of wreaths at the Cenotaph, what we’re getting is, ‘Oh, we were partying while you were doing that’.

“It’s an appalling feeling, just to think of that. We’re trying to cope with something that has damaged us.”

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