Sue Gray’s Report on ‘Partygate’ Might Be Ready ‘By Late May’
09:09 GMT 26.04.2022 (Updated: 15:19 GMT 28.05.2023)
Earlier, sources were cited as warning that senior civil servant Sue Gray's full report into so-called “partygate” would be so “excoriating” it would “make things incredibly difficult” for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with his premiership hanging in the balance.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray may complete her report into "parygate” - the scandal about alleged parties in Downing Street between 2020 and 2021 which breached COVID-19 lockdown rules - by the end of May at the earliest, reported The Guardian.
Sue Gray, who led a Cabinet Office inquiry into the matter and published an interim report in early February, had been forced to postpone the release of her full findings until Scotland Yard carries out its own inquiry. However, according to cited sources, the police investigation could drag on for several more weeks.
After Scotland Yard wraps up its probe, it may then take Gray a fortnight to compile her report before it is delivered to Downing Street. Gray was said to be “working towards the end of May as the most likely timetable” for completing her report.
However, yet another source dismissed this timeline as “wishful thinking”.
‘Failures of Leadership’
In February, Sue Gray’s interim report said that the incidents under consideration were “difficult to justify”, and there had been “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.
Though Gray appeared to offer muted criticism of senior government figures at the time, individuals familiar with the contents of the much-awaited complete report have been quoted as saying that the senior civil servant is likely to be deeply critical of “how particular individuals ran No 10 and how that contributed to rule-breaking”.
It was added that Gray was likely to follow up her findings with specific recommendations about how similar law-breaking and “confused lines of accountability” should be prevented. From the outset of the probe, Downing Street pledged to publish the full version of Gray’s report.
Tories Brace Themselves For More Fines
Scotland Yard previously confirmed they are investigating 12 alleged events held between 2020 and 2021 after receiving "significant evidence", among them a “bring-your-own-booze” garden party, a “surprise” birthday celebration for Boris Johnson in the Cabinet Office and a succession of leaving parties.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has said it will not issue any further updates regarding its Operation Hillman inquiry into the “partygate” row until after the local elections on 5 May.
22 April 2022, 16:28 GMT
Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak earlier received fixed penalty notices for having attended the surprise birthday celebration for the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 that was ruled to have breached lockdown restrictions. Johnson apologised in Parliament for the gathering, while insisting that it had not occurred to him at the time that it was a breach of coronavirus rules.
There are believed to be nine more gatherings on the force's list that could result in sanctions, with Boris Johnson said to have attended at least two of them: a “bring-your-own-booze” party on 20 May 2020 in the Downing Street garden, and a special adviser’s leaving do on 13 November 2020.
Johnson has already admitted attending the garden event at the height of the UK's first national lockdown, saying he was there with "groups of staff" for 25 minutes, under the impression it was a "work event".
It has been reported that some of those who attended gatherings in Downing Street have yet to receive questionnaires from Scotland Yard regarding their attendance and whether they had a “reasonable excuse” for breaching the rules.
Furthermore, on 21 April, MPs backed a Privileges Committee inquiry to determine whether Johnson misled Parliament with his repeated assurances that COVID-19 rules were strictly observed in No 10.
According to cited sources, Tory MPs are bracing themselves for Boris Johnson to receive a second fine, with some said to be waiting until then before they submit a letters of no confidence in the PM to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee. A total of 54 letters are needed before a vote will be called.
Some rebels have reportedly prepared no confidence letters to be submitted en masse if the Conservative party does poorly at the local polls on 5 May.
David Canzini, a former Tory party campaign director who was appointed in February as the PM’s new deputy chief of staff, has been reportedly trying to forge a connection with the more recent intake of Tory MPs that won seats from Labour for the first time in 2019. He is said to have addressed the group, known as “the blue barricade” on Monday night.
Canzini has purportedly been brought in to “change the narrative” of the present operation at Downing Street as the row over allegedly illegal gatherings at Downing Street and Whitehall has damaged the Tories' standing with the electorate.