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A former senior civil servant who led the federal government’s Covid taskforce has apologised for having leaving drinks throughout lockdown earlier than Christmas 2020.

Kate Josephs, who’s now chief government of Sheffield metropolis council, mentioned she was “really sorry” for the occasion on 17 December – at some point earlier than No 10 held its Christmas social gathering.

The gathering, first revealed by the Telegraph, noticed “dozens” of officers from the Cupboard Workplace’s Covid-19 taskforce attending the occasion, whereas the nation was in lockdown.

On that very same day, the federal government’s official Twitter feed replied to a question asking if employers may maintain Christmas events on the finish of the working day.

It mentioned: “Hello Mick, though there are exemptions for work functions, you should not have a piece Christmas lunch or social gathering, the place that could be a primarily social exercise and isn’t in any other case permitted by the foundations in your tier.”

Josephs tweeted an announcement apologising for what occurred, saying: “As individuals know I beforehand labored within the Cupboard Workplace Covid taskforce the place I used to be director common from July 2020 to 18 December 2020.

“I’ve been cooperating totally with the Cupboard Workplace investigations and I don’t need to pre-empt the findings of the investigation. Nevertheless as chief government of Sheffield metropolis council I’m accountable for main the organisation and dealing with companions throughout town and area to help our Covid response and restoration. That’s the reason I’ve determined to make an announcement.

“On the night of 17 December, I gathered with colleagues that have been at work that day, with drinks, in our workplace within the Cupboard Workplace, to mark my leaving the civil service.

“I’m really sorry that I did this and for the anger that individuals will really feel in consequence. Sheffield has suffered vastly throughout this pandemic, and I apologise unreservedly.

“The particular information of this occasion will probably be thought-about within the context of the Cupboard Workplace investigation. I didn’t attend any occasions at 10 Downing St. I’m grateful for the continuing help of colleagues and companions and wish now to ask that individuals permit the Cupboard Workplace to finish its investigation.”

Terry Fox, chief of Sheffield metropolis council, mentioned: “To be sincere I want to specific my deep disappointment – individuals will rightly really feel offended and let down. I get that utterly.

“After all the pieces that Sheffield has been by in the course of the pandemic, that is information that we didn’t need to obtain.

“During the last yr, Kate’s been an asset to our metropolis and she or he is working tirelessly for Sheffield and its individuals. Our residents will understandably have questions and issues, and we await the findings of the investigation.”

It’s the second report of a leaving drinks in Downing Avenue to have emerged within the final 24 hours. James Slack, the previous director of communications, was revealed to have had a leaving do throughout lockdown on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, main Downing Avenue to apologise to the Queen.

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