Tory MP Desmond Swayne says boozy picking is ‘a dissipation’ and ‘not a crime’

Conservative MP Desmond Swayne backed his boss by insisting the Downing Street meeting was “not a party” and that he had “committed no crime”.

Conservative Desmond Swayne claims the picture of Boris Johnson was taken at a gathering with wine bottles "work meeting"
Conservative Desmond Swayne claims the picture of Boris Johnson meeting with wine bottles was at a ‘work meeting’.

A Tory MP said the boisterous party Boris Johnson was pictured at was work and therefore “not a crime”.

Desmond Swayne has jumped to the Prime Minister’s defense after new pictures emerged of him appearing to toast a senior aide at a Downing Street drinks event during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The photos, obtained by ITV, are said to have been taken on November 13, 2020 during a visit for the outgoing Prime Minister’s communications director, Lee Cain.

Mr Johnson can be seen raising a glass to colleagues while bottles and glasses of wine sit on the tables around the room.

It was taken at the time when England had been forced into a second lockdown and the rules strictly prohibited indoor gatherings of two or more people, although this was accepted as an exception where the gathering was “reasonably necessary” for work purposes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured drinking at a Downing Street during the second national lockdown

Mr Johnson was fined for attending a birthday party in June 2020, but police confirmed he faces no additional penalties.

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said the Prime Minister had “degraded his office” and “there is now no doubt he lied”, referring to repeated claims he had made in the House of Commons that all the rules at No. 10 and that he had no knowledge of any infringing party.

But Mr Swayne, 65, who has been based in New Forest West since 1997, supported his boss, telling BBC show Newsnight: “It was work – it’s what people do at work, you have lapses .

“I understand the public fear at a time when they were locked down and not supposed to be together, but there was clearly a difference between the workplace where people work together – and are effectively in a bubble – and what was taken out there place.

“I don’t know, but I assume the police came to the same verdicts, so they didn’t issue any fines.”

Mr Swayne added: “That’s the view I take, the Prime Minister has apologized – there is clearly a difference in judgment but it wasn’t a crime and I don’t think it was party.”

Desmond Swayne has been a Tory MP for the New Forest West constituency since 1997


BBC Newsnight)

However, skeptics were quick to condemn Mr Swayne on Twitter, with one person saying: “I was working for 111 at the time and we stayed at our desks the whole time.

“We were only allowed to sit two meters away from others in the canteen and at the end of our shift we had to wipe everything up and leave.

“We all took part because we believed we were doing the right thing.”

Another user remarked: “A non-essential gathering prohibited under the public health regulations introduced by Boris Johnson and read to the nation on live television.”

There was this comment from another viewer: “They really think we’re stupid.

“Many were unable to attend funerals – not being able to attend and comfort the people they loved was a sacrifice many struggled with but made nonetheless.

“Downing Street staff couldn’t sacrifice even one exit ‘do’.”

The final comment goes to this Twitter commenter, who pointed out another possible issue emerging from the images: “Given the amount of alcohol in the photo, if this is a work meeting, we need another national alcohol talk at the heart of government.”

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