Sue Gray report on Downing Street party allegations published

Boris Johnson makes statement to the House of Commons after 'failures of leadership and judgment'

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Senior civil servant Sue Gray has presented British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a version of her inquiry into allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in No 10 Downing Street and the document has been published.

It found serious failings on all sides and recommended an overhaul of how Downing Street and the prime minister's office is managed.

"At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time," it said.

"At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times."

The report, which was given to Mr Johnson in advance, did not contain all the findings after police in London last week ordered Ms Gray to pare the report after they launched a criminal investigation into the allegations.

The Metropolitan Police asked Ms Gray to make only “minimal reference” to the events the force is investigating.

Some elements have been extracted to avoid the possibility of hindering the police inquiry but it is not yet clear what has been omitted.

"The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every government department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace," the report says.

"The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the prime minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street."

The government would not commit to publishing a more comprehensive report after police have finished investigating. A former communications director to Boris Johnson said that while limited publication of the Sue Gray inquiry is “bad for democracy” it is “good for the PM”.

“It’s a mess. It’s probably bad for democracy but inadvertently good for the PM," said Will Walden, who advised Mr Johnson during his time as London mayor. “He’s used up quite a lot of lives over this but I think it’s landed pretty well for him.

"I think he has the benefit of seeing what appears to be a heavily redacted report, he doesn’t have long to respond but he’s responding to frankly what is going to be not a lot. And I suspect that can only help him.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided an update on her investigations to the prime minister.”

The findings were sent from the Cabinet Office to No 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence, by email at 11.20am on Monday.

Mr Johnson will make a statement to the House of Commons at 3.30pm UK time on Monday. The report indicates that the government will reform how the centralised Cabinet Office system works.

"In terms of size, scale and range of responsibility, it is now more akin to a small government department than purely a dedicated prime minister’s office," it said. "The structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion. The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability.

"Too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose principal function is the direct support of the prime minister. This should be addressed as a matter of priority."

A copy was sent to the opposition Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer before the report was published on the government’s website for the public to read.

Read Sue Gray's findings in full

“The PM is grateful for the work that Sue Gray has done,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said, adding he was not aware if Met Police officers had spoken to anyone yet as part of their investigation.

Asked whether the public would see a fuller report, the spokesman said: “That’s one of the things I can’t confirm at this point simply because we need to discuss that with the Met and others about what is suitable.”

But he said there were no redactions from the version submitted to No 10: “We will publish it as received.”

“The findings will be published on and made available in the House of Commons library this afternoon, and the prime minister will then provide a statement to the House after people have had the opportunity to read and consider the findings," the spokesman said earlier on Monday.

The handing over of the report comes a day after Mr Johnson and Ms Gray spoke by phone to discuss the timing of the publication.

Mr Johnson said he stuck “absolutely to what I’ve said in the past” when questioned about his reported denials of any wrongdoing to Tory MPs.

The report had been expected to be released last week but was delayed, allowing Mr Johnson time to try to repair his public image.

The prime minister this month apologised in Parliament for attending a Downing Street gathering which he claimed he thought was a work event.

Mr Johnson has faced calls to resign from politicians across the political spectrum over the "partygate" saga.

Leaked photographs and emails suggested aides at Downing Street breached social distancing rules set by the government.

The allegations include a drinks party in May 2020 in the Downing Street garden, as well as Christmas celebrations, and also a joint leaving party for staff the night before Prince Philip's funeral in April.

Details of that event, at which staff reportedly brought a suitcase-full of alcohol and danced until the small hours, caused outrage.

At the funeral, Queen Elizabeth II was pictured sitting alone in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, abiding by social distancing rules to mourn her husband of 73 years.

The prime minister's office later apologised to the monarch.

Updated: February 21, 2022, 11:50 AM