Boris Johnson is facing claims that regular drinking sessions were held in Downing Street throughout the COVID pandemic with reports that staff held "wine-time Fridays".

Around 50 Downing Street staff had the hours between 4pm and 7pm scheduled into their electronic calendars for "wine-time Fridays" every week, according to The Mirror.

number 10 did not deny the claims but pointed to the ongoing whitehall investigation into multiple allegations of parties being held in downing street and other government buildings during the pandemic.

The fridge was reportedly delivered on 11 December 2020, when rules banned two or more people from different households from meeting indoors, unless it was necessary for work.

the prime minister encouraged aides to "let off steam" despite having banned indoor socialising during lockdown, the mirror reported a source as saying.

He is also said to have encouraged staff to "let off steam".

It was also the same day that Mr Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, left Downing Street for the final time following a bitter internal row.

One source told the newspaper of the events : "Boris used to stop by for a chat while they had a drink.

He knew about it and encouraged it."

Downing Street on Friday apologised to Buckingham Palace after reports that staff attended two separate parties on the night before Prince Philip's funeral in April.

Allegations of parties in Westminster during periods of lockdown are being investigated by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant.

she is expected to present her findings until next week.

A No 10 spokesperson said : "There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting and the purpose with reference to adherence to the guidance at the time.

"the findings will be made public in due course.

The paper said the end of week "wine-time Fridays" became such a fixture that staff bought a £142 drinks fridge and would head to a nearby Tesco with a suitcase to stock up on wine and beer.

Officials have refused to confirm or deny if Boris Johnson was aware of the two parties, after he admitted to attending an earlier drinks party and was pictured at a second.

The prime minister's spokesman said : "It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 has apologised to the palace."

"Friday evening is always press office drinks, people put money in and someone is nominated to get the booze," they said.

It was one of two events held at No10 on the day before Prince Philip's funeral – where the Queen was forced to mourn alone.

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