Boris Johnson’s top scientist calls Partygate’s rule-breaking ‘disappointing’

Sir Patrick Vallance, who became a household name for his regular appearances at Downing Street press conferences, said the Covid rules only worked if people followed them

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Sir Patrick Vallance calls Partygate scandal ‘very disappointing’

Boris Johnson’s top scientific adviser said it was “disappointing” that PM and Downing Street staff had not abided by their own Covid rules.

Sir Patrick Vallance, one of the faces of the Downing Street Covid briefings, broke his silence on the extent of the disregard for lockdown rules at No 10 and Whitehall after being given a gong at Buckingham Palace.

Asked if the revelations had clouded his thinking about how to deal with the pandemic, he told ITV: “It was really important at all stages that everyone played by the rules, there’s no question about that.

“It only works if people stick to it, and it’s very disappointing that it didn’t.”

Sir Patrick played a key role in the government’s response, appearing alongside the Prime Minister at several press conferences.

The 62-year-old, who has already been knighted, was given the elevated honor of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath at Buckingham Palace.

Sir Patrick Vallance is made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace



As the Duke of Cambridge presented the gong to Sir Patrick, he joked that it was “luck for the second time” – as the top scientist was originally knighted in the 2019 New Year’s Honors Roll.

It comes as Boris Johnson struggled to regain control after surviving a no-confidence vote when 41% of his own MPs said they would not support him.

Asked about the senior scientist’s comments, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson had “apologized for what happened” during the party gate.

“We remain grateful to him and to all the scientists and academics, researchers who have played such an invaluable role in the government’s response,” he said.

He suggested Mr Johnson had not spoken to Sir Patrick about the rule-breaking at Downing Street that resulted in 126 fines.

In his interview, the scientist said the darkest days of the pandemic came amid “great uncertainty” about the fast-spreading virus.

Boris Johnson has appeared at numerous Covid briefings, often flanked by Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty


(Getty Images)

Recalling those “difficult” times, Sir Patrick said there will be more waves of infection but the nation should be better able to deal with it now.

“The darkest days in many ways were the early days of the pandemic when obviously a lot of people got very sick pretty quickly – obviously people in government got sick and the PM was very sick and those were very difficult days,” he said.

“It was all about the uncertainty. We didn’t know much about the virus. We didn’t know much about exactly how it spread.

“We didn’t know there would be vaccines and treatments.

“We hoped it would be and we tried to work on it, but we just didn’t know. There was a lot of uncertainty at that time and that was the hardest part.”

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