People who have lost loved ones while coronavirus restrictions were in place have spoken of their anger at Boris Johnson after new photos emerged of the PM drinking wine at a lockdown party.
A grieving relative described the “soul crushing” images of the boozy events in No 10 as “another heartbreak”, while another said of the Prime Minister: “I hope he can live with himself.”
The pictures published by ITV News on Monday were reportedly recorded at a farewell party at Downing Street for former communications director Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, as England mired in the depths of its second coronavirus lockdown.
Their release – which follows the conclusion of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the scandal – has raised questions as to why Mr Johnson has emerged with just a single sentence imposed, despite reports that he has attended events for which others have been fined including the departure of Mr Cain.
The photos came to light as the country awaits the release of Sue Gray’s report on the Partygate scandal, following a weekend of anger in the senior official’s office over now-retracted Allegations No. 10 that Ms Gray had a controversial meeting with Mr Johnson had initiated discussing the report.
However, the expected wave of public anger at the content of Ms Gray’s report hit earlier than expected with the release of the Quitting Party images on Tuesday, as a painful reminder was given to those who were unable to say goodbye to loved ones or mourn with their families Their own sacrifices seemed unhonored by those who claimed them.
Zoe Elizabeth, a 33-year-old Somerset charity worker and solicitor, lost her two sisters during the first lockdown in April 2020, followed by their grandfather in November this year.
“The pain of losing someone who has been close to you your entire life is heartbreaking, but losing three of them is unbearable,” she said The Independent. “We stuck to the rules even though we knew this would be our last chance to say goodbye. We continued to abide by the rules when we were told we had to grieve alone, which was like a form of emotional torture, but we did it because we were told we had to.”
She added: “Every new photo from the celebrations held by the government during the worst time in my family’s life is like another slap in the heart.
“No one seems to understand how soul crushing this is and time and time again the survivors of Covid have had to endure the thoughtless, shameful attitude of the government – the same government we are supposed to believe has our best interests at heart. ”
She described it as “despicable” that the government was “allowed to sweep so many of its actions under the rug” with seemingly no consequence, adding, “How dare they think this behavior is acceptable.”
“When will they be held accountable? When will my family and all families who have lost loved ones to Covid finally see justice and have some peace without it all being so brazenly shoved in our faces? Enough is enough.”
Cassie Garbutt, 45, said she was “angry” at Mr Johnson’s “continuous denial” of the scandal and asked “how anyone can show so little humility”.
Ms Garbutt’s mother Brenda, 72, who was bedridden in a care home for 15 months before her death, contracted coronavirus and died alone in hospital during the first lockdown. Due to social distancing rules in place at the time of the funeral, she was unable to hug her grieving brother Glen, who took his own life a few weeks later in June 2020.
“We played by the rules but little did I know this would be the last time I see my brother l alive. I wish I had hugged him,” Ms. Garbutt said The Independent.
“Words are not enough how angry I am at Boris Johnson and his lies. Like so many others, I have lost so much. I will never be the same again.
“How another person can behave in such tragic circumstances is beyond me. I wish things were different, but they aren’t. I have done what I have done to protect others because it was what we should be doing, but our nation’s leader is not doing it and persists in lying. I hope he can live with himself.”
Caro Mitchell’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer in November 2020 and died six weeks later on Christmas Eve. In his final weeks, her family formed a very small immediate bubble to provide around-the-clock care for him alongside nurses and hospice workers, but was forced to turn away many loved ones who wanted to visit him.
“He was a very gregarious man who might have had a ‘last hooray’ type of party or gathering if that was a possibility or an option,” Ms. Mitchell said. “But it wasn’t, not for us, although apparently it was fine with ‘her.’
“There were many friends and family who wanted to visit him, but we felt we had to say no because of the lockdown rules. People who wanted to help and support us while we cared for him until his death had to be turned away on the phone and at the door.”
While she said her father told her at the time he believed the Prime Minister was “a liar,” Ms Mitchell added: “I’m afraid to think what dad would say now seeing how Boris is most likely referring to himself and all his hard work triggers ‘ he had to ‘let off steam’.
Ms Mitchell said she was “angry” when she saw the pictures released on Tuesday, adding: “Disrespecting the dead will cost him one way or another, as it should.” He disregarded the rules, the dying and the dead and their families then and he continues to this day.
“Boris has neither decency nor shame, otherwise he would have apologized for his lies and would have resigned in the meantime. He might like to think ‘it’s over’, but unfortunately it’s not because the country is being pushed into the abyss by him.”
Public anger appeared to be reflected in a bad mood in Westminster on Tuesday night.
A Tory MP told The Independent that the pictures showed that Mr Johnson had lied to Parliament, making it likely that no more letters of confidence would be written in the coming days.
In response to the photos being released, a No 10 spokesman said: “The Cabinet Office and Met Police had access to all information relevant to their investigation, including photos.
“The Met has completed its investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, after which the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-partygate-bereaved-photos-b2085755.html Bereaved relatives describe anger at new photos of PM drinking in #10