Department for Education admits holding Christmas ‘gathering’ last December while London was in Tier 2

A government department has admitted it held a Christmas “gathering” last December, when London was under Tier 2 coronavirus rules.

The Department for Education said the “gathering” took place in its office building, at a time social mixing between households was banned and the number of people in one indoor space was limited to six by law.

The department’s admission came after former education secretary Gavin Williamson was reported by The Mirror to have thrown a party and delivered a short speech at the event on 10 December last year.

A DfE spokeswoman said: “On December 10 2020 a gathering of colleagues who were already present at the office – and who had worked together throughout the pandemic, as they couldn’t work from home – took place in the DfE office building in London at a time when the city was subject to Tier 2 restrictions.

“The gathering was used to thank those staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

“Drinks and snacks were brought by those attending and no outside guests or supporting staff were invited or present.

“While this was work-related, looking back we accept it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time.”

The Department for Education’s statement came hours after a leaked video was aired by ITV showing Downing Street staff joking about holding a banned Christmas party, one they later denied having.

In the video from last December, Boris Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton said that the party in Downing Street “was not socially distanced” and added: “It wasn’t a party, it was just cheese and wine.”

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