Top lawyer ‘not convinced’ Boris Johnson Xmas quiz was exempt from Covid laws

The Mirror writes

Adam Wagner,Barrister and Visiting Professor of Law at Goldsmiths University of London, walks the Sunday Mirror through what a police officer who happened upon the No10 Christmas Quiz might have done

It’s useful to think what a police officer who happened upon the No 10 Christmas quiz in December 2020 would have done.

Let’s assume the officer found groups of varying sizes, including one room with 18-24 people, participating in a Christmas quiz, with alcohol, which led to drinks later and mingling between offices.

On 15 December 2020, London was in Tier 2. Under paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the “All Tiers” regulations, no person could participate in a gathering indoors of two or more people.

The officer would have considered possible exceptions. The first relevant one is a “permitted organised gathering”, under paragraph 4(4). But that could only work if people participated alone or in household groups. That doesn’t seem to apply here.

The second is that the gathering was “reasonably necessary for work” under paragraph 4(6). Maybe the civil servants would say that they needed the quiz for morale, or had to stay at work to run the government.

The officer might think: well, what is “reasonably necessary” for an office is a bit subjective.

But the government told us exactly what they thought was “reasonably necessary for work” – their own guidance at the time said “you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity”. So that seems to exclude the work exception.