Our family couldn't grieve properly yet Downing Street held a party, says Dumfries and Galloway Council leader

By Marc McLean & Dumfries and Galloway Standard

The furious leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council has revealed how her family were prevented from properly grieving during lockdown – while another Downing Street party was underway.

Dr Elaine Murray’s mother died in May 2020 and only a handful of relatives were allowed to attend the funeral in Dumfries due to strict social distancing and gathering rules.

Despite their grief, Councillor Murray also decided against having her three adult children in their garden for lunch after the funeral service.

Meanwhile, in Downing Street on May 20, 2020, over 100 staff were invited to a drinks party in the Number 10 garden to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

Councillor Murray said: “My mother was buried in May 2020 and we could only have five people at the crematorium.

“My sister and nieces were unable to attend.

"Our adult children don’t live in Dumfries. One is in Airdrie, one in East Lothian, and the other is in Kelloholm.

“So I contacted the local police to see if it was permissible to have people in the garden after the funeral for a spot of lunch.

“They basically came back and said they wouldn’t prosecute me for it, but it wasn’t permissible to do that.

“I felt it was important – as someone in an elected position and a leadership position – that I stood by the rules.”

Councillor Murray’s mother had been a resident at Lochduhar Care Home in Dumfries, although she did not die from Covid-19.

At this point in the pandemic, much about the virus was unknown and the strict nationwide lockdown rules banned people from meeting with more than one person from another household.

The second scandal about a lockdown drinks party at Downing Street came after an email invite was leaked to the media. It was sent by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to over 100 employees in Number 10.

Council leader Elaine Murray said she “wasn’t surprised” by the latest news of Tories breaking lockdown rules, while the general public are expected to comply.

“You ought to lead by example, but he obviously didn’t have that feeling of moral responsibility to do the right thing,” she said.

“They must have known they were breaking the rules and they weren’t bothered about it.

“Obviously it’s one rule for them, but the rules don’t apply to others.”

Asked if she believed Boris Johnson’s position as Prime Minister was untenable, Councillor Murray replied: “I would say so, I would rather he never became Prime Minister as Brexit was an absolute disaster as well.

“If I were Boris Johnson, I would resign.”


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