The Conservative Party chair has come in for criticism after donating a bottle of ‘partygate’ champagne signed by prime minister Boris Johnson to a charity auction. .
TV food critic and journalist Jay Rayner flagged it up on Twitter, sharing an image of the item and saying the party didn’t take partygate claims “seriously”.
This comes after the Met Police announced it had now issued more than 100 fixed penalty notices to Downing Street and Whitehall over lockdown breaches.
Among the most high profile MPs to receive penalties were the Prime Minister and Chancellor, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, who both paid them and apologised – but refused to quit.
Rayner tweeted: “Perhaps you thought the Conservative party took partygate seriously.
“Last night a champagne bottle signed by @BorisJohnson was donated to a charity event in Hertfordshire by local MP and Tory party chairman @OliverDowden. Read the description.”
The bottle had a note which read: “A bottle of champagne signed by Boris. Hugely valuable as a souvenir of party and the exemplary behaviour and morality of our dear leader”.
It was also donated by Oliver Dowden, a minister without portfolio in the cabinet office, who is also co-chairman of the party.
A spokesperson for Hertsmere MP Dowden said: “This item was donated in good faith several months ago for a local charity auction. Oliver Dowden had no prior knowledge of the description and this is obviously not his view”.
Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator, Shabana Mahmood MP, said: “I find it hard to believe that the Tory party chairman is unaware of things leaving his office bearing his name.
“The industrial scale of rule-breaking in Downing Street is important no matter how much ministers dismiss it. They broke the rules and they broke they economy. Now they think it’s a punchline.”