THE PRIME Minister did not receive and did not see an email inviting more than 100 staff to a party in his back garden, according to officials.

Speaking to Westminster journalists this afternoon, the Prime Minister's press secretary said Boris Johnson had not seen the message from Martin Reynolds about the May 20, 2020 party.

However she refused to say how Mr Johnson ended up being at the event, which he admitted he attended for around 25 minutes shortly after 6pm. 

The spokeswoman also refused to explain Mr Johnson's statement during Prime Minister's Questions that the event may have "technically" fallen within the guidance at the time.

On the day in question, the UK was facing strict lockdown rules and people were only permitted to meet one person from one household outdoors at a time. 

The press secretary said: "He made very clear he’s not pre-empting the findings (of Sue Gray’s review).

“I think his precise words were ‘even if it could be said, technically, to fall within the guidance’ he’s very clearly not pre-empting the findings.”

Asked what guidance he was relying on, the press secretary said: “He is not pre-empting the findings of this review, he is simply setting out his understanding going into that event.

“As he made clear in other parts of his statement and his answers, he said he believed implicitly it was a work event.”

Asked why he believed that, she said: “He believed the events in question were within the rules ‘and that was the assumption on which I operated’.

“But beyond that, I’m afraid I’m simply going to have to say that matters around the nature of the gatherings and other such details are a matter for the independent review.”

Other questions which Downing Street refused to answer included whether Carrie Johnson was at the event, if Mr Johnson was drinking at the party, how he came to know about it in the first place, when Mr Johnson realised he was in fact attending a party rather than a work event, and whether reports were correct that the event was to celebrate his return from hospital and to thank Dominic Raab for stepping in while he was unwell with covid.

The spokeswoman said that “matters around the around the guidance, the nature of the gatherings, attendance, setting etc will remain, rightly, a matter for the independent review to determine”.

Asked whether Mr Johnson had received legal advice on the content of his statement in the Commons today, the press secretary said: “I’m not going to get into how the Prime Minister works on statements as a matter of course.

“But this was the Prime Minister coming to the house to apologise and to acknowledge, as he has done before, the need for him to take responsibility and to set out what he is able to at this point.”

Pressed on why the Prime Minister could believe the event was “technically” within the guidance, his press secretary said: “I don’t think we will get into that specifically, the important point is that he is not pre-empting the findings of the independent review, he is setting out his understanding going into that event.”