Carrie Johnson has admitted to breaking COVIDrules after a photograph surfaced of her hugging a friend at an engagement party.
At the time, government guidance called for people to stay two metres apart from people not in their own household “where possible”, or one metre if taking the extra precaution of meeting outdoors.
However, The Sunday Telegraph published a photograph of Mrs Johnson embracing a friend at a social event at The Conduit, a private members’ club in Covent Garden’, when such restrictions applied.
The rule of six was in place at the time the photograph was taken, which the paper said was 17 September.
Mrs Johnson is shown with her arm wrapped around Anna Pinder and one of her legs draped over her leg in a picture that circulated online, and is laughing with her friend while posing for the snap on a sofa on the club’s outdoor terrace.
A spokesperson said: “Mrs Johnson was one of a group of six seated outside celebrating a friend’s engagement.
“Mrs Johnson regrets the momentary lapse in judgement in briefly hugging her friend for a photograph.”
Reports have previously suggested that Mrs Johnson, a former Tory adviser, was present at the 20 May 2020 “bring your own booze” event, while a photograph published in The Guardian shows her sat with her husband and Mr Reynolds in the No 10 garden on 15 May, five days earlier.
PM facing further calls to resign
The picture of Mrs Johnson comes as the PM faces increasing calls to resign following allegations of Covid-rule breaking allegations within his party.
Boris Johnson is reportedly preparing to oust members of his inner circle over the so-called ‘partygate’ affair as he fights to stay in office.
Mr Johnson admitted to attending the “bring your own booze” garden party at No 10 at the height of the UK’s first lockdown earlier this week, and was later forced to apologise to the Queen for partying the night before Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral.
Further claims emerged on Friday (14 January) evening of regular “wine time Friday” gatherings in No 10 while coronavirus rules were in place.
The UK is now awaiting the publication of a report from senior civil servant Sue Gray into the long list of alleged lockdown-breaching parties.
The PM is understood to be devising a policy announcement blitz and a cull of his top team as he looks to survive the partygate affair, according to The Sunday Times.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting and the purpose with reference to adherence to the guidance at the time.
“The findings will be made public in due course.”