The UK’s top bureaucrat has stepped away from leading an inquiry into allegations that government offices hosted parties in breach of lockdown last year, amid details surfacing of a party in his own office.
According to the BBC, members of cabinet secretary Simon Case’s office were invited to a “Christmas Party” on December 17 last year, with less than 15 people gathering at the office.
A government spokesperson told the broadcaster that staff who had been working in the office that day took part in a quiz from their desks, while the rest of the team attended virtually.
“The cabinet secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office,” the spokesperson said.
“No outside guests or other staff were invited or present. This lasted for an hour and drinks and snacks were bought by those attending. He also spoke briefly to staff in the office before leaving.”
The event was first reported on the website Guido Fawkes, with the public airing leading to Case removing himself from an investigation into alleged government events in breach of London lockdown restrictions last year.
The allegations include claims a party occurred inside No. 10 Downing Street on December 18 last year.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted no rules were broken by him or his staff.
The investigation is also examining a Christmas party at the Department of Education last year, which the department head confirmed occurred and had asked Case to investigate.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray has now taken over concluding the investigation. Gray was previously the director-general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2012 to 2018.