'No parties' held by Scottish Government ministers or civil servants around Christmas during first year of Covid pandemic

The Scottish Government has officially said no parties were held by ministers or civil servants during December 2020.

In responses to Freedom of Information requests, officials flatly denied the suggestion any events including secret Santa, a Christmas drink, or the swapping of gifts took place as the Alpha variant took hold of Scotland.

The formal responses come as Boris Johnson continues to fight for his political career and future as Prime Minister after coming under intense criticism for several parties held in Downing Street during the different lockdowns.

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The Scottish Government has said no parties were held by ministers or civil servants.

Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, has been tasked with establishing what happened in Downing Street during lockdown, with her report due imminently.

The parties are also under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

Officials in Scotland, however, denied any similar events took place in St Andrews House, the main Scottish Government building, or Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence.

They stated only 5 per cent of the usual number of staff accessed St Andrews House on any given day during the lockdown.

They added: “There were no functions or gatherings held of any description.”

However, in response to a Freedom of Information request from The Scotsman, officials refused to release internal correspondence between civil servants which included the word “party”, sent between December 1 and December 31, 2020.

Claiming the term would require “extensive information gather” by officials, they stated: “We assume that you have requested this information in relation to the recent focus on parties held in UK Government buildings.

"In that context, you should note that no such Scottish Government events took place.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has repeatedly called for the resignation of Mr Johnson over the UK Government’s ongoing ‘Partygate’ scandal.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, the SNP MP said: “The impending National Insurance tax hike hangs like a guillotine while they eat cake. This is nothing short of a crisis and the only route out, the only route to restore public trust, is for the Prime Minister to go.

“How much longer will Tory MPs let this go on for? How much more damage are they willing to do? It is time to get this over with – show the Prime Minister the door.”

Mr Johnson rejected calls to resign.

Want to hear more from The Scotsman's politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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