WESTMINSTER lobby journalists have been dragged into the scandal surrounding Christmas parties on Downing Street last year following explosive claims from Dominic Cummings.

Boris Johnson’s former senior adviser warned the Prime Minister he would be “unwise” to “lie” about the reports of potentially illegal festive bashes at Number 10.

Dropping a political bombshell on Twitter, he added that senior political reporters were present at the parties and were trying to “bury” the story.

It came as Downing Street shifted to a hardline stance, insisting “there was not a party”.

The Daily Mirror reported last week that two events took place in No 10 in the run-up to the festive season, including Johnson giving a speech at a packed leaving do during November’s lockdown.

The other was said to be a staff party in December, where party games were played, food and drinks were served, and revelries went on past midnight.

At the time, the Tier 3 rules in place in London explicitly banned work Christmas lunches and parties where it is “a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted”.

READ MORE: Gary Neville lets rip at Boris Johnson over Christmas bash at Number 10

No 10 has so far resisted increasing pressure to explain what happened in Downing Street last year, as the Metropolitan Police considered complaints submitted by two Labour MPs.

Downing Street had initially declined to deny the reports, but shifted its stance on Monday evening to claim that no festive bash took place.

Cummings tweeted in response: “V unwise for No10 to lie about this but PM set the course of lying on covid in spring when he decided to start rewriting history, deny herd immunity plan etc.”

He added: “NB some lobby hacks were also at parties in No10 flat so trying to bury this story...”

The Prime Minister's spokesman also denied reports that there was a secret santa gift exchange organised at the gathering in December, which would suggest it was pre-planned.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab raised eyebrows on Sunday by telling The Andrew Marr Show that police have been clear “they don’t normally look back and investigate things that have taken place a year ago”.

Downing Street insisted he was referring to Scotland Yard’s statement saying officers do not routinely investigate “retrospective” breaches of the Covid regulations specifically.

However, court records showed police were prosecuting a 36-year-old man for holding a gathering of two or more people in Ilford, east London, on the same day as the alleged event in Downing Street.

READ MORE: Boozy No 10 Christmas parties were nothing short of a national disgrace

The court list showed he is one of two people facing hearings before magistrates in Westminster on Wednesday, charged with breaching Tier 3 restrictions in December, while many more were being prosecuted for allegedly falling foul of Tier 4 rules introduced on December 20.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman declined to say whether an internal investigation had been carried out, but told reporters: “There was not a party, and Covid rules have been followed at all times.”

He added that Downing Street was still considering holding a staff party this year, despite Raab ruling out one for the Ministry of Justice.

The spokesman said: “We haven’t confirmed any dates at the moment. I think there is an intention to have a Christmas party this year.

“There is nothing in the limited restrictions that we’ve introduced that would prevent Christmas parties from taking place.”

Families who lost loved ones during the pandemic have said they were “sickened” by the reports, with the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group urging the Prime Minister to apologise.

Despite those concerns, Health Secretary Sajid Javid claimed the reports were not “serious”.

Javid was responding to questions in the Commons on the Omicron variant of coronavirus when he was challenged over reports about the alleged party on December 18.

He was told by Labour MP and shadow minister Karl Turner that people would be “more enthusiastic” about any new measures if he “accepts there was a knees-up in No 10” and was to “fess up to that and apologise on behalf of the Prime Minister”.

The Health Secretary replied: “I thought it was going to be a serious question.”

The National: MASKS: Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Credit to PA

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting pointed out people in his Ilford constituency were being prosecuted for holding an indoor gathering on the same day.

He said: “Isn’t it time that the Government comes clean about the event in Downing Street on that same day, admit they broke the rules and apologise – or does the Secretary of State believe, as the Prime Minister appears to, that it’s one rule for them and another rule for everyone else?”

Javid responded: “In terms of rules, of course they should apply to everyone, regardless of who they are.”

Raab, who said a “formal party” would have been “clearly contrary to the guidance”, appeared to be contradicted on Monday by Tory policing minister earlier Kit Malthouse.

He claimed he knew “nothing about” the reported gatherings but said he believed no rules were broken.

Malthouse also suggested there may have been circumstances such as distancing between attendees that would have permitted the gathering – despite London being in Tier 3, banning social mixing indoors at the time.

He conceded he was “not an investigator” when questioned on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about how the Christmas party could have been within the rules.

“I asked the question, was all the regulations complied with? I was reassured they were, I have to take that at face value, that’s absolutely what I’m sure is the case, it’s for others if they want to decide to take it further,” the Tory minister said.

“They reassured me that all the regulations were followed and, of course, I believe them.”

He declined to say whether it would have been within the rules for BBC staff to have held a party with drinks, nibbles and party games.

But he added: “You’re asking me a hypothetical question, I don’t know what the circumstances might have been, how far people would have been apart, what size of space it was – there are all sorts of variations.”