The health secretary has said he refused to face journalists because he was “upset” by a leaked video showing Downing Street staff laughing about holding a Christmas party.
Sajid Javid had been due to speak to journalists from a number of media outlets during a broadcast round on Wednesday.
But he pulled out a “few minutes” after a clip, obtained by ITV, was released. It showed the prime minister’s then-press secretary Allegra Stratton joking about how to describe a “Christmas party” which took place in Number 10 while London was under lockdown restrictions.
Boris Johnson apologised for the video during PMQs on Wednesday and announced an investigation into the alleged boozy gathering on December 18.
Mr Javid resumed the media round on Thursday.
“I didn’t appear because I saw that video, it upset me,” he told Sky News.
“It upset a lot of people across the country. It upset the Prime Minister. I spoke to my colleagues in Number 10 and we actually agreed it is best to have some time to respond to the video in the way the prime minister has now by ordering an investigation by the Cabinet Secretary and the idea was just to give them space to react.
“But I’m pleased that the prime minister has asked for an investigation and I can see also why so many people would have been upset by that video. “
Ms Stratton resigned as a government adviser following an angry backlash over the clip.
It has also emerged Conservative aides threw a separate party during coronavirus restrictions last December, as the fallout over the alleged rule-breaking in Downing Street continued.
The “raucous” party took place in the HQ’s basement, was attended by No 10 aides and featured dancing and wine-drinking into the early hours despite indoor social mixing being banned at the time, the Times reported.