Covid: Bereaved family angry at No 10 lockdown party

A woman whose mother died alone in hospital said she felt “anger, sadness and frustration” after a video emerged showing Downing Street staff joking about a lockdown Christmas party.

Mavis Doreen D’Arcy died with Covid aged 94 on 27 December after spending the month at Hull Royal Infirmary.

Her daughter Elizabeth D’Arcy-Malone said it “seemed to be one rule for the government, another for everyone else”.

The prime minster has ordered an inquiry into whether rules were broken.

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Mrs D’Arcy-Malone said her family were only allowed one visit during her mother’s hospital stay and were refused access the day before she died.

Her brother, Mark D’Arcy, who had caring responsibilities for their mother, died aged 60 from a pulmonary embolism two weeks later.

“There were so many people abiding by what the government were telling people at that time and frustration that the government was not leading by example.”

“I know I can’t attribute that condition to what happened, but I’m absolutely sure the stress, anxiety, upset and the sadness about the situation contributed in some way to him dying far too soon,” she said.

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On Wednesday Boris Johnson apologised after footage emerged of senior aides joking about a Downing Street Christmas party during last December’s lockdown.

The event is said to have taken place nine days before Mrs Darcy’s death at a time when such events were banned under Covid restrictions.

Mrs D’Arcy-Malone, 54, of Ridgeway, in North East Derbyshire, said the video given to ITV News stirred up a mixture of “anger, sadness and frustration”.

“There’s no compassion, empathy or understanding of what it’s like for the thousands of us who have lost somebody and have battled to be able to communicate with those loved ones while they were in hospital,” she said.

“They’re joking and being flippant, brazen. At that point in time I was battling to talk to mum and trying to get some sort of hospital technology to potentially speak to her – the contrast is immeasurable.”


Mark D'Arcy

Image source, Family handout

She described her mother, from Beverley, in East Yorkshire, as a “lovely, funny, gorgeous little Welsh lady” who was married to her husband, Cyril D’Arcy, for 59 years.

The family said a phone on the ward was broken meaning communication was limited.

“That’s what we were living with at that point in time, we were being told by the government that you can’t go and see people,” she said.

“Those were the restrictions and we couldn’t do anything about that, we had to adhere to it.”


Elizabeth D'Arcy-Malone

Image source, Elizabeth D’Arcy-Malone

She described her brother, who was born in Haverfordwest in Wales and lived in Long Riston, in East Yorkshire, as “incredibly witty, generous and one of my best friends”.

She concluded: “There were so many people abiding by what the government were telling people at that time and frustration that the government was not leading by example.”

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Johnson suggested he had been misled about the Christmas party on 18 December.

He said he had been “repeatedly assured that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”.

Downing Street had denied a party had taken place, but a video showed the PM’s then press chief Allegra Stratton joking about the party four days after it had taken place.

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