Parties in Downing Street weren’t just the three or four we know about – they were a regular event throughout lockdown, particularly on a Friday evening.

One of the reasons the Metropolitan Police has so far refused to investigate properly is because its officers colluded by ignoring the law-breaking.

A source worked in 10 Downing Street for several months of the lockdown. They recall the Christmas party of December 18, 2020, after which the PM’s spokesperson Allegra Stratton resigned.

They say: “As I was leaving Downing Street that Friday evening staff were heading to the party in the press office. The regular Friday gathering but with a festive twist, clinking of bottles in bags, people were in Christmas jumpers.”

At the time, Government regulations in London stated specifically: “Although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.”

Downing Street is one of the most heavily-guarded places in the country. There are security devices and cameras all over the short street and the gardens behind. These are constantly monitored.

To get through the gates manned by the Met protection officers you have to show a pass and all comings and goings – including those in fancy dress and Santa Claus jumpers toting bottle bags – are recorded on the CCTV.

Inside Number 10 the first room on the right is where the huge bank of screens showing the feeds from the cameras, watching everywhere, including the garden, are located.

It’s inconceivable that Met police officers were unaware of the Christmas one, the May 20 party in the garden, the April one last year for James Slack’s going away – he was then Boris Johnson’s leading adviser, now a senior Sun apparatchik – or any of the earlier or later parties.

Tapes of all the days and nights in question exist unless, of course, the Met has wiped them?

“Everyone was aware of it,” says my source. “It was like a different country.”

Parties are Gray area

There is so much spin going on in Downing Street that, harvested, it would power a small country.

The hand of Dominic Cummings has been all over the earlier party revelations but not the latest, those on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.

The latest spin concerns the leaving do of top SPAD James Slack and another for the departure of one of the Prime Minister’s photographers, with the two boozy groups later mingling

in the Number 10 garden in the early hours of Philip’s funeral on April 17 last year.

It’s said that at some point an underling was sent with a wheelie suitcase to the Co-op on the Strand to fill with bottles of wine, although why he or she didn’t just pop across the road to the Tesco Express under Portcullis House at Westminster Bridge I don’t know. Perhaps they don’t stock Dom Perignon?

The difference here is that Boris was at Chequers that day so is blameless on this one.

This line, I’m reliably informed, is being choreographed by Carrie, Boris’s wife, in a desperate effort to pin it all on the drinking culture engrained in the fabric of Number 10, which the PM knew nothing about because it all took place in the basement while he was up in his flat, until he innocently stumbled into what he thought was the “work event” on May 20.

For this to work and Boris hold on to his job he needs the investigating civil servant, Sue Gray, to conclude that while he was stupid (we knew that!) he didn’t actually break the law in his 25-minute visit to the garden. And if he didn’t then, conveniently, there’s no need for the Met to proceed.

The media repeatedly has it that this is an independent inquiry. Of course it’s not. Gray may be independent-minded, although the evidence weighs against her, but this is a Whitehall insider job. A whitewash job?

Gray works in the Cabinet Office, where she has the job title of “Director-General, Propriety and Ethics Team”. Her job is to adjudicate on whether rules have been broken by officials, ministers and special advisers, and pre-empt any damage.

Part of her job is signing off memoirs (including by elected politicians) to check they have not revealed anything unhelpful.

She is seen as a force of conservatism in the civil service and an internal critic of attempts to open up the Whitehall machine to scrutiny.

She likes to deal on the phone, so that there is no document trail, according to sources.

Even when a document trail exists, she’s minded to keep it a secret. She has also advised special advisers on how to destroy email (by “double-deletion”) to thwart Freedom of Information requests.

Again we know, via FOI, that she kept no log of why, how or when she destroys documents.

We should learn this week how independent Gray is and if Carrie’s spin has worked.

Pulling my Leg

UNTIL now I had thought that Wet Leg was a rather unfortunate gentleman’s toilet experience, but apparently they’re a band. If two can be a band. A friend tells me that they’re the “current darlings of bien-pensant liberal arty cliques”.

They’re certainly the darling of The Guardian’s Zoe Williams whose recent piece on them could make Pseuds Corner. Actually, anything Ms Williams writes could. Here’s a sample.

“The origin story they have settled on is that they made a decision to start a band at the top of a ferris wheel. But I refuse to ask them about that because it’s just too manic pixie dream girl and I don’t want to encourage that. They are called Wet Leg because they wanted a name they could spell with emojis. Like a lot of their lyrics, it simultaneously makes sense and doesn’t, because those emojis could mean “wet leg” or “tsunami robot” or “rain chicken”.

Got it?

Direct inaction

BEFORE Christmas, I bought a pair of trainers from Sports Direct and paid £3.99 extra for express delivery. They were meant to be a Christmas present.

As soon as I had paid a message told me that they wouldn’t be delivered for click-and-collect until January 5.

I instantly tried to cancel online. The algorithm said no. I went into the shop and tried. Stroll on, was the message.

It’s now January 16 and still no sign. Perhaps by this Christmas? I bought a pair of trainers for the present over the counter at JD Sports. I recommend that you do the same.

Jacob’s crackers

SCOTTISH Tory Douglas Ross was slapped down during the week as a political “lightweight” by Jacob Rees-Mogg after The Linesman said Boris should resign. By contrast, Moggie described Scottish Secretary Alister Jack as “a much more substantial and important figure”.

He’s talking about the Alister Jack who, in 2011, backed Murdo Fraser’s leadership bid which, if successful, would have meant independence from the national party, ditching the Tory name and the setting up of a new Scottish unionist one.

Jack was then a successful businessman, said to be worth £20 million.

“I have given Murdo my assurance that significant sums of money will be in place if he wins,” he said at the time.

He backed the wrong horse then, and he’s supporting Boris now.

And finally …

When you turn 100 you get a letter from the Queen. When you turn 17 you might get a text from Prince Andrew.

And Len Pennie for Makar. That’s all.