AN email showing Downing Street staff were invited to “bring your own booze” to a party in the No 10 garden during the height of lockdown has been published by ITV.

The invite reportedly led to an event with around 40 attendees - including Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie. The Prime Minister did not deny he was at the event when asked by reporters on Monday.

The email, sent by principal private secretary to the prime minister, Martin Reynolds, invites staff to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

It was reportedly sent to more than 100 employees in No 10, including the Prime Minister's advisers, speechwriters and door staff.

The SNP have branded the news "utterly outrageous" and called on Johnson to come clean about what he knows.

Metropolitan Police confirmed it is in contact with the Cabinet Office over the claims.

The National:

The text of the invitation reads: "Hi all,

"After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden this evening.

"Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!"

ITV News said that around 40 people, including the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie, gathered in the garden that evening, eating picnic food and drinking.

Asked on Monday if he and his wife attended the party on May 20, Johnson replied: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray."

Speaking at PMQs in December, Johnson was asked by Labour leader Keir Starmer if he would be “handing over everything the government knows about parties in Downing Street to the Metropolitan police?”

The Tory leader replied: “Of course we will do that.”

The National: Simon Case

The inquiry now being led by veteran civil servant Sue Gray originally had cabinet secretary Simon Case (above) at its head. However, Case stepped down as he became engulfed in the very scandal he was tasked with investigating

The email seems to confirm a story told by Dominic Cummings on his blog last week. The former chief adviser to the Prime Minister alleged that the Tory government saw a drinks event held on May 20, 2020 in direct contravention of coronavirus regulations.

Cummings has also alleged that Boris Johnson attended the May 20 party.

Rules at the time allowed only two people from different households to meet outside, at a distance of two metres.

Less than an hour before the drinks at No 10, the then culture secretary Oliver Dowden had reminded the rest of England at a daily press conference that they must only meet in pairs outdoors.

On May 20 he said: "You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart.”

Guidance allowing the “rule of six” outdoors wasn't brought in until June 2020 and large gatherings remained banned.

On May 20, the Metropolitan Police tweeted a reminder that people in London could "relax, have a picnic, exercise or play sport, as long as you are: On your own; With people you live with; Just you and one other person."

The force has previously said that it will not investigate alleged lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street due to a lack of evidence and a policy not to investigate retrospective breaches

But following the latest revelations, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.”

The news follows reports in the Daily Mail that Reynolds was set to be made the "fall guy" for the scandal around parties held on Downing Street during lockdown.

The paper reported that the inquiry into the parties would lead to Reynolds losing his role alongside the Prime Minister. Instead he may be offered another high level diplomatic role, possibly at ambassador level. 

Reynolds was briefly the UK's ambassador to Libya in 2019.

Commenting on the revelations, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford (below), called for the Prime Minister to “come clean”.

The National: SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford pointing at Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London on Wednesday December 8, 2021.

Blackford said: "Boris Johnson must come clean and admit whether he attended, or was aware of, this Covid rule-breaking party in his own back garden.

"People will find it utterly outrageous that while the rest of us were banned from public gatherings, the most powerful people in the Tory government were boozing up at No 10 Downing Street - proving yet again, that it's one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”

He went on to call Johnson’s government “the most corrupt in decades”, saying if Boris Johnson “had a shred of integrity or an ounce of shame, he would have resigned many months ago”. 

“He has no moral authority left, and as he won't go - his Tory MPs have a duty to remove him from power.

"Sleaze and corruption are endemic at Westminster. The only lasting solution is for Scotland to become an independent country and escape the broken Westminster system for good."