Brexit Party chairman and Tory MP broke lockdown rules to attend BBQ

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA.

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice and Tory MP Bob Seely reportedly broke lockdown rules to attend a barbecue at an event organised by one of the editorial team at the Spectator.

The magazine's deputy editor Freddy Gray hosted a gathering at his mother-in-law's home in the village of Seaview on the Isle of Wight last month, which was attended by Tice and his partner journalist Isabel Oakeshott, the Guardian reports.

Also present was Tory MP Bob Seely, who at the time had been spearheading the efforts to promote a new government contact-tracing apps on the island.

Seeley claimed he was unaware that others were present, and had turned up for a meeting to discuss a recently-published article.

At the time, on May 22, the lockdown rules stated that people were only allowed to meet one person from another housheold outdoors.

Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight. Photograph: Twitter.

Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight. Photograph: Twitter. - Credit: Archant

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The government's guidance stated that people could not 'gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)'.

Tice and Oakeshott did not deny attending Gray's barbecue, with Tice's partner said to have been staying at a second home she purchased in 2018.

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He said: 'I have followed the prime minister's advice to wash my hands, stay alert, maintain social distancing and test my eyesight when appropriate.'

Oakeshott said: 'I work on the Isle of Wight all year round. It is where I go to write. I have stayed alert, washed my hands regularly and, as always, enjoyed my time on this paradise isle. Now and again I've also tested my eyesight, which seems to be in good order. Along with the rest of the nation, I am delighted at the recent decriminalisation of barbecues.'

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Seely issued a statement to his local newspaper Isle of Wight County Press apologising to constituents.

He said: 'I was in Seaview two weeks ago undertaking constituency work. Whilst there, I agreed to visit someone who wanted to discuss the app. He is a journalist and an acquaintance. When I arrived, I saw another couple of people there, which I was not expecting. I thought about leaving, but felt that was perhaps overreacting.

'I apologise because, on balance, I called this wrong. It would have better to have spoken to this person without any others nearby.'

He added: 'At a sensible distance, we talked in the garden. The others left 15 minutes later, and I stayed to talk with this person [Gray] for a further 20 minutes or so. I then left. I didn't go inside any building, nor did I have a drink. As it was after normal working hours, my girlfriend was with me.

'In the interests of being transparent, I am happy to confirm that, as the island's MP, I have had a very small number of other such face-to-face conversations – again at a social distance – over recent weeks with other people on the Isle of Wight (such as council, media and public health representatives) when requested.'

He later told local radio he had 'half a sausage'.

Labour's Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, said that the Tory MP's 'actions are extremely concerning and should be taken very seriously. Boris Johnson claimed to be taking back control of the Covid-19 pandemic but this is just the latest example that shows he can't even control his own MPs.'

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