A FORMER minister has insisted a “Christmas party” he and 27 guests attended at a London club was a business meeting.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the Commons Defence Committee, spoke at the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) event at the Cavalry and Guards Club on Tuesday.
The organiser described the event, taking place hours before the capital city went into tier three coronavirus restrictions, as a “Christmas party” on its website.
It also said the dinner was co-hosted by Baroness Nicholson, Boris Johnson’s trade envoy for Iraq.
Ellwood has insisted the event was a business meeting and therefore allowed under the tier two rules which applied at the time.
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The Daily Mail asked Ellwood, who called for a review of eased Christmas restrictions amid fears of a third wave this week, about his attendance.
The MP said: “I would not be attending a Christmas party, it was a business meeting.
“I went there to meet business people and that is what it was. The club went to extreme lengths so that as a business function it was absolutely Covid-compliant.”
He added that the 27 people present at the event “all followed the guidance”.
The IBBC has now taken down its online description of the event as a “party”.
The Cavalry and Guards Club said it did not comment on private parties held there while the Department for International Trade would not comment on Baroness Nicholson’s attendance.
According to the UK Government’s tier system, tier two areas permit gatherings for work purposes “where they are reasonably necessary”.
The rules also state that business events are allowed but “capacity should be restricted”.