THE former head of the UK's Covid taskforce held a leaving night "with drinks" in mid-December 2020, at the height of lockdown.

Kate Josephs, who was the director of the Cabinet Office's Covid taskforce from July 2020 until December 18 of that year, apologised for doing it and "the anger that people will feel as a result".

The taskforce is responsible for coordinating the Government’s response to the pandemic and advises the Prime Minister, including by providing data and analysis.

Josephs noted in a statement issued on Twitter that she is now the chief executive of Sheffield City Council and made a statement due to having to work with partners across the city and region to support the response to the virus and recovery from the pandemic.

Josephs wrote: "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.

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"I am truly sorry that I did this and for the anger that people will feel as a result. Sheffield has suffered greatly during this pandemic and I apologise unreservedly."

She said that she has been "cooperating fully" with the Cabinet Office investigation into parties held in UK Government offices during the second lockdown and said she does not want to "pre-empt the findings of the investigation".

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Josephs says that while the full facts of this event will be "considered in context" she did not attend any events at 10 Downing Street, where many other gatherings have been revealed to have taken place.

She continued: "I am grateful for the ongoing support of colleagues and partners and need now to ask that people allow the Cabinet Office to complete its investigation.

"I will not be able to respond to any further questions until the Cabinet Office investigation is complete."

According to The Telegraph, “dozens” of officials from the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 taskforce attended the event, while the country was in lockdown.

On that same day, the Government’s official Twitter feed replied to a query asking if employers could hold Christmas parties at the end of the working day.

It said: “Hi Mick, although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.”

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Sheffield City Council leader Terry Fox said the chief executive has discussed with him what happened and apologised face-to-face.

He said: “To be honest I need to express my deep disappointment – people will rightly feel angry and let down. I get that completely.

“After everything that Sheffield has been through during the pandemic, this is news that we did not want to receive.

“Over the last year, Kate’s been an asset to our city and she is working tirelessly for Sheffield and it’s people.

“Our residents will understandably have questions and concerns, and we await the findings of the investigation.”

Sheffield City Council said Josephs was continuing in her role “with full duties as normal”.