Shaun Bailey quits London assembly role as photo shows dozens at Tory HQ party

Shaun Bailey quits London assembly role as photo shows dozens at Tory HQ party
Several members of his team have already been disciplined for attending the ‘raucous’ event

A former Tory mayoral candidate has quit as chair of a police and crime committee after allegations emerged that he attended a Christmas party last year when London was under Tier 2 Covid restrictions.

Shaun Bailey’s team organised the gathering in the basement of the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) in December 2020.

Tier 2 restrictions meant that separate households were not allowed to mix in order to limit the spread of the virus.

Four of Mr Bailey’s campaign staffers were disciplined last week by CCHQ for holding the “raucous” event.

Since then, calls for Mr Bailey to step down had intensified.

Mr Bailey, who has yet to comment, has now quit as chair but remains a member of the committee and the London Assembly.

His resignation came shortly before The Mirror published a photograph of him and about 23 staff at a party in CCHQ with drinks and a buffet.

A spokesperson for the Greater London Authority Conservatives said Mr Bailey stepped down to prevent the “unauthorised social gathering” distracting from the committee’s work of holding Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to account.

An email from the Assembly, seen by news website MyLondon, says that City Hall Conservative leader Susan Hall AM will take over as interim chair.

Meanwhile, No10 staff who stayed in Downing Street to take part in a Christmas quiz were told to “go out the back”, it has been alleged.

The Mirror reported that the quiz on 15 December – which the PM Boris Johnson helped to host – had been held virtually, but with many taking part from the office. London was in Tier 2 at the time of this event too.

The newspaper quoted a source who said many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol while the quiz was taking place.

An image that had been published by the Sunday Mirror showed the Mr Johnson flanked by colleagues – one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat – in the No 10 library.

No 10 previously said that Downing Street staff were “often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response” during the various lockdowns, and therefore “those who were in the office for work may have attended virtually from their desks”.

But the Mirror said a message sent by No 10’s head of HR on the night advised that those who had stayed behind to take part “go out the back” when they left.

A Government spokesperson said: “Given there is an ongoing review, it would be inappropriate to comment while that is ongoing.”

Cabinet secretary Simon Case is set to investigate alleged gatherings or parties held in government buildings during Covid restrictions.