'It's utterly shocking' - Investigation into alleged party rule-breaking

Ruthie Henshall and Boris Johnson

Actress Ruthie Henshall said she was devasted when she saw the news of an alleged party in the run up to Christmas last year when Covid restrictions were in place. - Credit: PA

A Suffolk family and a West End star unable to see loved ones due to the pandemic said they are "devastated" and disturbed by allegations of a Christmas party during last year's restrictions.

An investigation has been launched into alleged rule-breaking events in Downing Street in the run up to Christmas last year- despite Covid rules banning them. 

Boris Johnson has said no Covid rules were broken. 

Allegra Stratton speaking outside her home in north London where she announced that she has resigned

Allegra Stratton resigned as an adviser to Boris Johnson and offered her "profound apologies" after footage emerged of her at a mock news conference apparently showing Downing Street aides joking about a Christmas party held during last year's lockdown - Credit: PA

A leaked video shot on December 22 showed the now resigned press secretary Allegra Stratton joking about a party at Downing Street on December 18.

At the time, Elysia Depledge, who lives near Beccles, was preparing to spend her first Christmas without her mum.

Jenny Bone died on April 6 2020 in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after testing positive for Covid - two weeks after the country went into lockdown.

Mrs Depledge said the accusations left her disturbed, sad and angry not just for those who lost loved ones at the time of the alleged party but the "double standards".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covi

An investigation has been launched into alleged rule-breaking events in Downing Street. - Credit: PA

Most Read

The 50-year-old said: "Mum was Christmas in our family. She loved Christmas time and went all out.

"We didn't know the Christmas before that was going to be our last Christmas. 

"I was disturbed. Unfortunately, I know people who lost loved ones on the 18th. I feel very sad but then I became really angry of the double standards of it."

She said the alleged breach was "another example of a rule for us and no rules it seems for them" and that some may not be as willing to follow measures as a result.

She said: "Our whole worlds have changed and they're having their Christmas parties against the lockdown restrictions of the time. 

"As bereaved people, we're not important to them. 

"Many of us are stuck. I do not think I have grieved properly. We weren't able to have a wake, only three of us were at her funeral. All these normal traditions to help you grieve didn't happen. We stuck to every single rule that was expected of us."

Mrs Bone, from near Diss, was a former director of the London School of Economics and after her retirement travelled with friends and became a trustee of a cats sanctuary.

Her daughter said: "Mum was very funky, she didn't dress like she was 72 and she didn't look like she was 72.

"Retirement came along and she travelled all around the world with her best friend. This wasn't her time. She had more travelling to do. She was funny and she was caring and loyal. 

"She wasn't sitting there waiting for her time to come, she was out living her best life and that's what Covid has stolen from her and from us." 

The family were not able to be with Mrs Bone in hospital. 

"It came as a big shock, right up until the day we were being told she was stable. She sent us a text to say goodbye."

Ruthie Henshall joins members of Rights For Residents to hand in a petition at 10 Downing Street, Lo

Ruthie Henshall campaigned for Rights for Residents - Credit: PA

West End star Ruthie Henshall from Suffolk said she was “devastated” to hear about the alleged December 18 gathering at Number 10 as she could only see her mother through a window last Christmas.

The actress led a national campaign to end isolation for people living in care homes.

She was her mother's essential care giver in her last weeks. Mrs Henshall's mother Gloria died in May this year aged 88.

Asked for her thoughts about the reported Downing Street gathering, the West End star told Radio 4: “I was devastated to hear that, especially as last Christmas I did see my mother through a window, and I think it’s utterly shocking.

“And the fact that the Prime Minister is desperately trying to shift the focus to other things.

“The only thing that I heard him say yesterday in defence was ‘Well… vaccine rollout… vaccine rollout… vaccine rollout’.

“That was all we got.”