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LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not knowingly lie to parliament when asked about reports of a party at his Downing Street residence during a coronavirus lockdown, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Tuesday.

New photographs of Johnson drinking at a leaving party in Downing Street in November 2020 were published by ITV News on Monday, reigniting opposition accusations that he breached his own COVID-19 lockdown rules.

When asked in parliament in December last year about reports of a party on that date in 2020, Johnson said he was sure “the rules were followed at all times”.

“He didn’t knowingly lie,” Shapps told ITV.

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“I think what happened is he stepped into something.” “What is said to parliament is to the best of your knowledge, sometimes we don’t have all the facts to hand.” Shapps told Sky News: “The question is was he down there partying? No clearly not … he is at the end of a busy day, he walks down, he says cheers to someone who has worked there and walks out, and to him that is not a party.”

Monday’s photographs show Johnson making a speech and raising a toast, with a glass in his hand, standing next to a table on top of which are several wine bottles.

At that time, large gatherings with people outside of your own household were banned after England had been put back into a national lockdown due to rising cases of COVID-19.

Opposition Labour lawmaker Catherine West, who asked Johnson about the event in parliament, told Times Radio: “It is pretty basic to want the prime minister of this country to tell the truth.”

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