Former UK COVID taskforce chief 'truly sorry' for rule-breaking leaving party
Ex-director general of Cabinet Office's COVID-19 taskforce is latest to admit lockdown-breaking drinks party
The former head of the UK coronavirus taskforce apologized Friday for having leaving drinks despite coronavirus restrictions banning indoor socializing at the time.
Kate Josephs, former director general of the Cabinet Office's COVID-19 taskforce, said she was "truly sorry" for the party that took place on Dec. 17, 2020.
She added that the party is now part of an existing investigation into parties across the government that broke COVID-19 restrictions – an investigation that is growing rapidly in scope.
In her statement, which she posted to Twitter, Josephs said: "On the evening of 17 December, I gathered with colleagues that were at work that day, with drinks, in our office in the Cabinet Office, to mark my leaving the civil service.
"I am truly sorry I did this and for the anger that people will feel as a result."
It comes amid a flurry of leaks of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and across government while the rest of the country abided by the rules. The scandal has come to be known as "partygate" in local media.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has himself admitted attending one such party in Downing Street – which he claimed he thought was a work meeting – and only earlier today was forced to apologize to Queen Elizabeth II for two parties that took place in No 10 on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, though he was away at the time.
Josephs is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council.
"Sheffield has suffered greatly during this pandemic, and I apologise unreservedly," she said.
Josephs added: "I did not attend any events at 10 Downing Street."