‘My father died of Covid while Boris Johnson’s staff held a Christmas party’

Families who lost loved ones to coronavirus have spoken of their fury and devastation at the new revelations of partying by the Prime Minister and staff at No 10 Downing Street in the Sue Gray Report.

While those who set the Covid rules were carousing until 4am, singing karaoke and drinking until they were sick, the families were unable to spend those last precious moments with their dying relatives.

The 37-page document includes damning details of the revelry that took place at the heart of Government, in flagrant disregard for the rules.

Lobby Akinnola, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: “When they were texting colleagues about getting away with it, we were having to text our families telling them they couldn’t come to their loved ones’ funerals.”







Sue Gray’s report has been published
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Here some of the families talk of their bread:

colin jones

Tiffany Jones’ father Colin died of Covid late on December 18, 2020, the night of a Christmas party at No10 when secret Santa gifts were exchanged.

It was the same party former Downing St press secretary Allegra Stratton joked about in a mock press conference. At this time, the government guidance specifically said that Christmas parties were not permitted, and just days later Johnson instructed people to cancel Christmas plans, meaning many spent the festive period alone.

Tiffany, 41, says: “He died the night they were throwing a party and exchanging secret Santa gifts and all getting drunk. Words cannot describe how disgusting it is. Staff throwing up, fighting, red wine up a wall, abusing cleaning staff and security, it’s like a bunch of 14-year-olds getting p***ed.

“Even the Queen was following these rules, after losing her husband of so many years. I feel so sorry for her, these were the people she expects to lead her country.”

Tiffany said that after hearing Johnson trying to persuade MPs to “move on” from Partygate, “I just wanted to scream at him and say, it’s alright you saying that but 190,000 people have lost someone, how the hell are they supposed to move on ? Some of us never will.

“I don’t think he has the vaguest idea how he feels to lose someone to something that he could have prevented. He’s absolutely clueless and it makes me so angry.







Boris Johnson holding a drink at a gathering in 10 Downing Street during lockdown
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“How he can lead this country when he can’t even lead his own employees is beyond me. It’s just an epic failure of leadership, He’s turned Downing St into nothing more than a boys club.”

Colin, a retired draftsman, died, aged 61, after catching Covid and spending a week in Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital. The father-of-three had been married to wife Helen for 42 years.

Tiffany says: “Who the hell was Johnson to think it was OK to go off and drink and party while everyone else had to stay at home and watch their relative died over an iPad? To want to be there while they took their last breaths alone and afraid.”

She says the party revelations has made it even harder for her, her mother, brother and sister, to grieve and move on.

“Every time we hear of these events it hurts even more. The party on November 13 was six days before the last wedding anniversary my parents spent together. June 20, the last Father’s Day I had with him. It’s silly little things like that.

“It’s sad and it’s sickening, you just want to curl up and cry. That man has so little respect for anybody else.”

Ranjith Chandrapala

As a bus driver on a hospital route, Ranjith Chandrapala was well aware of how dangerous his job had become in Covid.

With no PPE, he was cautious to the point of pain.

“Dad took the regulations really seriously and he washed his hands so much that they became sore and they bled,” his daughter Leshie, 42, explains.

Despite his precautions, 64-year-old Ranjith caught Covid in April 2020. He isolated at home in Ealing, West London – suspecting but unable to know for sure he had the virus – his family, sticking to the rules, stayed away.

He became more ill and was taken to Ealing hospital – the very hospital his bus route went to and from – and was treated in ICU before he sadly died on May 3.

“I always feel sad that I wasn’t there to look after Dad,” says Leshie. “But more than that, actually, what I’m really upset about is that I wasn’t there in the ICU with him and I wasn’t able to visit.

“That’s how we did our bit. We made that sacrifice, and I said my goodbyes to Dad, who did everything for me. He was the one who loved me the most in the world.”

In stark contrast to the Chandrapalas’ selfless actions, the senior civil servant’s report outlined there was karaoke, red wine spilled on the walls, someone being sick and, on the day of Prince Phillips’ funeral, where the Queen sat alone, staffers stumbled out of number 10 at 4.20 in the morning.

Leshie is adamant that because of this Johnson should resign: “He cannot stay. He’s degrading the office – the highest office in the land – he needs to go today. He has treated COVID bereaved families with utter disrespect.”







Leshie and her father Ranjith Chandrapala
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Donna Coleman, pictured with her siblings, was just 42 when she died of Covid
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Donna Coleman

Inspirational lecturer Donna was just 42 when she died from Covid on January 6 last year (2021), her sisters holding her hands as life support machines were turned off at Blackburn Royal Hospital.

Yesterday sister Vicki said Boris Johnson should not be allowed to carry on as Prime Minister.

She said: “As a family that has lost I feel so sad that the people who set the rules and guidelines are the ones who broke them. I feel that they should all be accountable for their actions.

“Every employer has a duty of care to their employees, so to encourage or allow staff to party whilst the whole world is told they have to self isolate is just criminal. I feel that any senior leaders that allow this should face consequences and be dismissed from a leadership role as it definitely does not demonstrate good leadership.

Donna, who worked at Burnley College, had no known underlying health conditions but was rushed to hospital on December 29 with breathing problems. She messaged Vicki on New Year’s Day – promising to FaceTime her the next day. By then, she was already on a ventilator.

Vicki said: “The call never came. She had messaged friends asking them to look after her family, so she must have been scared.

“My dad and sister went to see her and came home looking shocked, saying, ‘She’s not coming out of this.’

“I went the next day, I held her hand, I said goodbye. That wasn’t Donna, she wasn’t there, she’d gone.”

Shaun Brady

Hannah Brady is one of the few who have received a face-to-face apology from Boris Johnson and the findings of the report feel particularly personal to her.

The Prime Minister stood in front of her in Downing Street and said he’d done everything possible to follow the rules and protect people like her key worker father Shaun, who died from Covid.

Today there’s one word which sums up how Hannah feels about that. Lees.

“He apologised,” she says of their meeting in September 2021. “He said that he’d done everything he could to follow the rules and to save people like Dad. He sat face to face across from me in the same garden where he’d had this lockdown outdoor party, and he lied to me.”

Shaun was a key worker at the Heinz Factory in Wigan, where he lived, and passed away at 55 on May 16, 2020, after 45 nights in hospital.

“The culture in Downing Street of these parties, and the disregard for the majority of the public’s safety starts and stops with Boris Johnson,” she adds.







Hannah Brady and her father Shaun
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Hannah Brady received an apology from Boris Johnson
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On top of detailing the sheer number of knees-ups enjoyed at the Prime Minister’s headquarters, Gray has also published messages which show that officials talking about how they seemed to

“have got away with… our drinks”.

Hannah says: “To see WhatsApp messages in the Sue Gray report by senior officials bragging that they’ve gotten away with parties… just screams contempt.

“I think there’s absolutely no way that this country can trust that if another crisis happens under this administration, the public won’t be treated with the exactly same contempt.”

Due to following regulations the family, like many others, were not able to give Shaun a proper send-off.

“His funeral was 10 people outside in the rain,” she adds. “We couldn’t touch his coffin. We couldn’t have an open casket, couldn’t see his body. We did stick to the rules absolutely. To the point where when Dad was phoning me to say ‘I can’t breathe’, I couldn’t even go down to check if he was still alive in like the nine hours between him calling an ambulance and them turning up.”

The details of the parts are particularly galling.

“He was not allowed a wake, but somebody else was allowed a party where they could vomit red wine up a wall,” Hannah says. “I was allowed a 20 minute funeral outside. Boris Johnson stayed at an outdoor gathering for 25 minutes. He had five minutes longer at a party in May than I had at my dad’s funeral the following month in June.”







Boris Johnson has been criticized by families who lost loved ones to Covid
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Ivor Garfinkel

During the pandemic Ivor Garfinkel was very, very careful. Suffering from an autoimmune condition he shielded right up until, just after “Freedom Day” was announced in July 2021, he caught Covid.

The 76-year-old tragically passed away just over a week later, his son David unable to see him and barely able to speak to either his father or the overwhelmed doctors taking care of him.

David explains his father was taken to hospital but sent back to his home in, Stanmore, West London, after a day. A few days later the paramedics came to check him but didn’t take him back to hospital.

Worried, as his father deteriorated further, David begged Ivor’s GP to call an ambulance and he was finally taken back to hospital but it was too late.

Despite being worried about Ivor, David still stuck to the rules and didn’t visit his father even as he was becoming more and more ill.

“It was really quick,” he says. “Kind of shocking. The whole thing for me is that throughout all of this, we couldn’t be with him. I barely got to speak to him, I mean, you couldn’t even get to speak to doctors in the ICU. It took me nearly two days to find a doctor in the ICU who could speak to me and tell me what was going on.”







David Garfinkel and his father Ivor Garfinkel
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David describes the findings of the Sue Gray report as pretty awful.

“I think the big issue that I’ve got is that the people in power leading the country,” he says. “Civil servants, politicians, all of those who were complicit in everything that went on during Partygate.

“They knew exactly what they were doing. They set the rules, and then they broke them. To know that we had one of the highest death rates in the world from COVID-19, and you’ve got these people, drinking wine and eating cheese and being sick over a karaoke machine… it’s shocking.”

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