The woman who was in charge of the UK Government’s Covid taskforce has apologised for going to her own Downing Street leaving do during lockdown.

Kate Josephs, who is now the chief executive of Sheffield Council, issued an apology for her behaviour as anger grew about Downing Street’s party culture during the covid pandemic.

She admitted attending a drinks gathering at the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2020 when she was working on the Covid taskforce.

She said: “I am truly sorry that I did this.”

“As people know I previously worked in the Cabinet Office covid Taskforce where I was Director General from July 2020 to December 18, 2020.

“I have been cooperating fully with the Cabinet Office investigations and I do not want to pre-empt the findings of the investigation.”

She said the drinks were held to mark her leaving the civil service.

“However as Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council I am responsible for leading the organisation and working with partners across the city and region to support our covid response and recovery.

“That is why I have decided to make a statement.”

She said that on December 17, 2020, she “gathered with colleagues that were at work that day, with drinks, in our office in the Cabinet Office, to mark my leaving the Civil Service.

“I am truly sorry that I did this and for the anger that people will feel as a result. Sheffield has suffered greatly during this pandemic, and I apologise unreservedly.”

The apology followed on from one by Boris Johnson’s former official spokesman James Slack, who is now deputy editor of The Sun newspaper, who expressed regret for the “anger and hurt” caused by his leaving party on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.

His event was one of two parties that night that Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace to on Friday.

The two parties last April involved around 30 people in total, and are reported to have converged at some point in the Downing Street garden, where they continued past midnight.

Staff were reportedly sent to a nearby shop with a suitcase that was brought back “filled with bottles of wine”.

The PM’s spokesman said it was “deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning”.

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