Photo shows open bottle and staff wearing tinsel at December 2020 event, which PM's office said was a "virtual" party

The image published by the Daily Mirror shows the prime minister with two members of staff. including his deputy principal private secretary, Stuart Glassborow, at the event on 15 December, which No 10 has said was a virtual quiz.

Asked at prime minister’s questions in Parliament on Wednesday if the Met police should add this to the events they are investigating, Johnson said the allegation was “completely in error”.

At the time the photo was taken, London was under tier 2 restrictions, which banned social mixing among households. The government had explicitly told people they must not meet for Christmas parties.

Johnson was challenged about the image by Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who said: “It looks a lot like one of the Christmas parties he told us never happened.”

Citing the case of a constituent who was unable to have family visit her in hospital when she was being treated for a tumor, Hamilton asked if Johnson would refer the event to police for investigation.

Johnson replied by expressing his sympathy for the constituent, saying: “I understand very much her feelings. But in what he has said just, I am afraid, he is completely in error.”

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