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7th Jul, 2022

Angry resident demands MP condemns lockdown breaches

AN ANGRY resident is demanding Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi condemn the actions of any who breached Covid regulations during reported lockdown parties at Downing Street.

The woman, who did not want to be named, is outraged at the MP’s support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson following calls for his resignation after widespread national anger over the alleged parties.

In a letter to Mr Zahawi, she describes how on May 20, 2020, during the first lockdown, her family was forced to social distance during the funeral of her grandma who died in a care home, without her family by her side, after contracting Covid.

The day coincided with one of a growing number of so-called parties, including one five days earlier. The accusations followed a leaked email allegedly inviting some 100 staff to a garden party at number 10 – a breach of Covid regulations at the time.

The woman told the Observer: “As the email was being circulated, we waved the hearse off from my Nanny’s street. The funeral director apologised to us and the other family and friends who had gathered, appropriately distanced, in the heat to pay our respects, that it had to be that way.

“One of my sisters isn’t local, so she wasn’t even permitted to do that.”

In her letter to Mr Zahawi – who as Education Secretary is a member of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet – she also describes the tragic circumstances in which family and friends were forced to say goodbye to her grandma as she streamed the funeral over Zoom.

“A dodgy mobile phone feed was the only way I could pay my last respects, unable to comfort my crying father.

“I hope that you can take time to reflect upon the human cost of the pandemic, particularly against the background of the latest reports. You can, I hope, appreciate how it feels that we, the public, are being taken for fools.”

At the time, only ten people were permitted to attend important events such as funerals and weddings. Otherwise, a maximum of two people from separate households could meet in a public place such as a park.

Mr Johnson has since admitted he attended the May events – which he claims were both work gatherings.

Other reports of gatherings have since come to light including a handful during the following November and December, while in April 2021 one was said to be held on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, during a third national lockdown.

The letter went on: “As my constituency MP, you should be speaking up for those you represent, including my Nanny. I would like your assurance that you will condemn the actions of those who breached the regulations in place at the time, now including the Prime Minister, and that you will hold them to account.

“The sacrifices made by my family and many, many others are belittled by the actions of the Prime Minister, and of your other colleagues found to have committed these breaches, and by the justifications offered by all of you for these reprehensible behaviours.”

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and SNP are all calling on the Prime Minister to resign while six Conservative MPs have declared they have no confidence in Mr Johnson.

Mr Zahawi has since defended Mr Johnson, calling him ‘human’ and that he therefore ‘made mistakes’.

But in reply to the letter he said he understood the angry response to the allegations.

“I have a deep sympathy with people who lost loved ones during lockdown and were unable to be with them in their final moments.

“Sadly, I also lost my beloved uncle. I understand the anger that is being experienced by people across the country in light of these allegations.

“Given the seriousness and sensitivity of this issue, it is right that an independent investigation takes place to ascertain exactly what went on and to determine potential disciplinary action.”

Fellow Tory Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright has already told The Observer that working in Downing Street would not be a defence if Covid rules had been broken.

The findings of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into the alleged Downing Street lockdown breaches could be published as early as next week.

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