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Tory Grant Shapps has bizarrely claimed Boris Johnson was “clearly not partying” when he raised fizz surrounded by booze at a No10 party.

The Cabinet ally said the Prime Minister “lost his mum during the period”, despite the fact Charlotte Johnson Wahl died “suddenly” 10 months after the party happened.

The Transport Secretary came up with the eye-popping excuses today after ITV News revealed photos of the PM giving a speech at aide Lee Cain’s leaving do, next to a table groaning with alcohol.

Mr Johnson is accused of lying to Parliament because he explicitly denied any party took place in No10 on 13 November 2020 – the date the photos were taken.

Yet Mr Shapps today indicated the Prime Minister will deny he lied – because he wasn’t partying.

Asked if Mr Johnson misled Parliament, he told Sky News: “The question was was he down there partying – no, clearly not.

“He’d gone by to say thanks and raise a glass to a colleague who was leaving.” He added Boris Johnson had his ministerial red box on the chair next to him – so was “probably” on his way to do some work.

Boris Johnson with his mother, who died in September 2021… ( Getty Images)
… And at a No10 leaving do in November 2020

After police did not even investigate Mr Johnson over the event, but did fine other No10 staff on the same date, Mr Shapps said: “The police have spent a lot of time with a lot of people and a lot of resources crawling over it and they’ve come to their conclusion, as we know he wasn’t fined for that.”

Mr Shapps bizarrely tried to excuse Mr Johnson’s behaviour by saying the PM “lost his mum during the period”.

That is despite the fact Charlotte Johnson Wahl died “suddenly and peacefully” aged 79 in September 2021, 10 months after the party.

Sources later stressed Mr Shapps was talking about the period of the Covid pandemic more generally, and not trying to suggest Boris Johnson was mourning his mother during the party itself.

Mr Shapps said: “I don’t think these things should have happened, but I think it’s probably worth recalling in context that throughout this period the Prime Minister himself had been extremely ill, had a close brush with coronavirus, he lost his mum during the period, he was dealing with the pandemic.

“By the looks of things he goes and thanks somebody who’s leaving, he raises his glass to them.

“And as I say, I – having like everyone in this country lived through coronavirus and in many cases made enormous sacrifices – don’t enjoy seeing pictures that suggest anything else.

Grant Shapps came up with a litany of excuses to explain Boris Johnson’s behaviour ( Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)

“But this is well-covered territory, we’ve seen this, we’ve heard about this, the only difference is seeing the photograph.”

The PM faces a probe by the Commons Privileges Committee into whether he lied when he explicitly denied there was a party in No10 on 13 November 2020.

Asked last December in the Commons whether there had been a party in No 10 on that date, the prime minister said “no” and added he was sure the rules were followed at all times.

Labour said there was now “no doubt” that Mr Johnson had “lied” to MPs.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross demanded the prime minister explain why he believed his behaviour was “acceptable” when most people would think the pictures published by ITV News were “unjustifiable and wrong”.

Claims emerged today that Boris Johnson suggested Sue Gray could just drop her Partygate report in a secretive meeting in early May.

The Prime Minister – who is the Whitehall investigator’s boss – met her after No10 officials talks “may be something that she might want to consider.”

No10 have refused to release any minutes. But it’s now emerged he asked if there was “much point” in publishing her final verdict on lockdown parties after a police probe, the Times and Sky News reported.

The suggestion Boris Johnson tried to meddle with the inquiry piles fresh pressure after he was accused of lying to Parliament.

Sources told the Mirror more photographs showing the PM drinking at rules-busting lockdown gatherings in No 10 are expected to be published in Sue Gray’s report into Partygate – which could be published on Wednesday.

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