The Justice Secretary downplayed reports that Number 10 hosted a party during lockdown last year, dismissing them as “unsubstantiated claims”.
His comments come despite Boris Johnson failing to deny the allegations, with his spokesman instead saying they “don’t recognise” the reports.
“Until there is something substantiated, until it is more than anonymous sources, I think we are chasing shadows,” he told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“If there is a breach of the rules there is a breach of the rules. But I don’t know the full facts because I wasn’t there.
“Of course, if there was a formal party held, of course that it something that is clearly contrary to the guidance.
“If anyone held a party that it is contrary to the rules, of course that is the wrong thing to do.
“If something unsubstantiated from anonymous sources actually materialised then of course it would be wrong.”
The Deputy Prime Minister added he will not be holding a Christmas party at the Ministry of Justice, even though it would be permitted under the current coronavirus rules.
He explained: “The rules are very clear. People can go in and have Christmas parties – of course employers will want to think common sense about how they do that,” he told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme.
“We won’t be having a Ministry of Justice-wide Christmas party this year. We will be having appropriate drinks at a smaller scale.
“The Government wants people to be able to enjoy Christmas this year. People should feel free to go and enjoy those celebrations and every employer will think about the right way to do it and I’m the same as everybody else.”
Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon later warned that “people look at the actions of the Government and they get a confused message”.
Speaking on Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday, Mr McMahon urged the Government to follow its own advice.
He said: “We’ve been very clear that common sense interventions are far better than a blunt instrument in this and we want to make sure that after the sacrifice that we’ve made and, listen most of us last year at Christmas were adhering to the rules and we made sacrifices, we didn’t see our loved ones, we didn’t mix, we didn’t have parties in the office, we adhered to the rules.
“After all that sacrifice that we’ve made, we want to look forward to this Christmas and the only way to do that is for the Government to have a very clear plan for them to get on with the booster vaccination rollout and to make sure that throughout the course of that, that the messaging is really clear, because the worst thing in the world is that the Government say one thing, but then do another and people look at the actions of the Government and they get a confused message.”