Boris Johnson orders probe after video leaked of staff members joking about COVID-19 protocols

British Prime Minister Boris JohnsonBoris JohnsonUK's Johnson dismisses calls to resign over lockdown party Measures to stem spread of omicron in UK dropped The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE has issued an apology and ordered an investigation after video of Downing Street staff members joking about a Christmas party during the strict lockdown last year was obtained and published.

In a mock press conference meant to practice for any questions that journalists may ask, government adviser and former press chief to Johnson, Allegra Stratton, joked and laughed about a Christmas party that government staffers reportedly had on Dec. 18, 2020 when indoor gatherings of two or more people were prohibited and work parties were not allowed.

Video of the exchange was obtained and released by ITV.

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"This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced," Stratton could be seen saying to her colleagues while laughing.

“I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing Number 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures," Johnson said in the House of Commons on Wednesday. "I was also furious to see that clip."

"I apologize unreservedly for the offense that is has caused up and down the country and I apologize for the impression that it gives," Johnson continued.

According to Johnson, further inquiry has currently lead him to believe that a party had not in fact been held and staffers did not break any rules.

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However, he added that if any rule-breaking is discovered upon further investigation, then "disciplinary action" will be taken for all involved.

As the BBC reported, the remarks have drawn public outcry, with many members of the British public speaking on how they had missed out on meeting with family during the holidays last year due to the stringent guidelines. Sources told the BBC that government staffers ate food, drank and played party games until midnight.

Stratton has since issued an apology for the video and resigned from her position.

"The British people have made immense sacrifices in the ongoing battle against COVID-19," said Stratton. "I now fear that my comments in the leaked video… have become a distraction in that fight.

"That was never my intention. I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days and offer my profound apologies to all of you at home for them," she added.