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Daughter of woman who died alone a year ago voices fury at No 10 party video

·3-min read

A grieving woman whose mother died alone in hospital with Covid on the day of the alleged Downing Street Christmas party has called on Boris Johnson to resign after video emerged of aides laughing about the subject.

Jackie Green, 59, described the Downing Street officials’ attitude as “totally reprehensible” and said it made a mockery of her own decision to abide by lockdown rules despite her elderly and widowed mother’s loneliness.

Ms Green told the PA news agency: “It’s astonishing – just when you think that things can’t get any worse, something else happens.”

Beryl Harris, 86, had been shielding at her home in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, so had not seen her only child for 10 months by the time she was taken to hospital with anaemia.

Mrs Harris was then struck down with Covid, but was said to have been on the mend and was due to be discharged on December 17 2020.

But her condition suddenly worsened and she died on December 18 – the same day as an alleged staff party at No 10 where games were played, food and drinks were served, and revelries went on past midnight, The Daily Mirror reported.

The Metropolitan Police said it is reviewing leaked footage from No 10’s £2.6 million press briefing room, which showed former press secretary Allegra Stratton laughing as she appeared to rehearse answers to questions over a lockdown-busting Christmas party.

Ms Green said the clip sent two messages to the public: “One is that the Government think they are above their own rules, and can behave in any manner in which they please.

“And also, it’s saying ‘we don’t actually care about you’.

“Some people placed their confidence in this Government when they voted them in – that confidence turns out to be severely misplaced.”

She said she was so shocked by the footage of the press conference rehearsal, obtained by ITV News, that she watched it several times to let it “sink in”.

Coronavirus – Wed Dec 8, 2021
Allegra Stratton, the former press secretary at No 10, was caught on camera laughing about the alleged Christmas Party (Justin Tallis/PA)

She said: “I was absolutely appalled that members of the Government could laugh and joke about a party when people were losing their loved ones.

“To put it mildly, it was inappropriate. It was totally reprehensible behaviour.”

Ms Green added: “If I’d have had a party, the police would have been knocking on my door, quite rightly so.

“The flippancy with which that subject (the alleged Downing Street Christmas party) was dealt with was absolutely appalling.”

No 10 initially did not say reports of the party were inaccurate but said all rules had been followed, before later denying any party had taken place.

Ms Green, who is part of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice which has campaigned for the public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic, said: “Where’s the integrity? They need to actually stand up and tell the truth.

Coronavirus – Wed Dec 8, 2021
Beryl Harris died alone in hospital on December 18 last year after contracting coronavirus (Family handout/PA)

“And primarily, Boris Johnson needs to stand up and tell the truth.

“An apology is not nearly enough for those people that have lost loved ones to Covid, and families that are still suffering because of Covid.

“Particularly because he (Mr Johnson) has denied this repeatedly, and his Government ministers have denied this repeatedly, it would seem like an insult to people if he apologised now.

“He needs to tell the truth about what happened, he needs to put his hands up to it – have some integrity about the whole thing.”

She said the Prime Minister needs to resign over the affair.

“The buck stops with him, he’s ultimately responsible.

“It’s a serious breach of public trust and public confidence. And if the Government were allowed to get away with this, it would be an absolute scandal.”

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