As the nation waits with bated breath for the Sue Grey report that will either damn or exonerate Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a request has gone in to find out exactly how much booze was being drunk in Downing Street.
A national waste and recycling company is going where no investigative journalist has gone before, and has submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out the truth.
Waste collection company Divert.co.uk says this virtual rummage through the bins at Number Ten will go some way to determining the depth of the drinking and party culture there while the rest of the country was observing strict Covid lockdown rules.
“We’re asking about the amount of waste by type for glass, food, and general waste,” says Divert.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. “We’re also requesting the weights of each collection, not to mention the number of collections for the periods during lockdown, as well as periods before lockdown.
“It could all be very revealing.” Every business, commercial enterprise and workplace in the country – including government offices - is required by law to have a commercial waste contract in place.
A waste transfer note is required for each load of waste that leaves the premises. This waste transfer note must be kept ready for inspection for a period of two years.
“That means, somewhere in the bowels of Number Ten Downing Street, is a file containing the exact contents of the bins at the times of the lockdown-busting parties,” says Divert.co.uk’s Mark Hall. “Each note should have a description of the waste, and how much of each type has been collected.
“If our FOI is granted, we’d be seeing large amounts of glass being collected on the days following these bashes. And probably loads of Greggs wrappers too.” Divert.co.uk is quick to point out that they’re not interested in the amount of paper and confidential waste collected from Number Ten.
In the words of Line of Duty’s Ted Hastings: “We're only interested in one thing here and one thing only, and that's bent corkscrews”. Divert.co.uk says that while their FOI may sound trivial, it could help further expose a serious issue.
“Over 150,000 people have died of Covid-19 during this pandemic, and people were mourning lost loved ones at the time of these events,” says Mark Hall. “We, as concerned citizens, want to use our specialist knowledge of the waste industry to find out what really happened on the days in question, and it should all be there in black-and-white on those waste transfer documents.”
As Divert.co.uk knows – the paperwork never lies. The alternative is blowing up satellite photos of Central London from the days in question to check out how many people were in the Number Ten garden, and to check out the empties next to the bins.
But we don’t know how to do that.