Partygate live: Boris Johnson faces MPs as Sue Gray report shows alleged No 10 flat party never fully investigated | Politics


Report found ‘multiple examples of lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff’

Here are Sue Gray’s conclusions. They are similar in tone to the conclusions of her interim “Update” published in January but there is new detail about how security and cleaning staff were treated by officials in No 10. “I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff,” Gray says.

The general findings set out in my update of 31st January 2022 still stand.

Whatever the initial intent, what took place at many of these gatherings and the way in which they developed was not in line with Covid guidance at the time. Even allowing for the extraordinary pressures officials and advisers were under, the factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that guidance. It is also clear, from the outcome of the police investigation, that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.

I have already commented in my update on what I found to be failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office. The events that I investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen. It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders. The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.

In my update I made a number of general limited findings, I am pleased progress is being made in addressing the issues I raised. I commented on the fragmentary and complicated leadership structures in No 10. Since my update there have been changes to the organisation and management of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office with the aim of creating clearer lines of leadership and accountability and now these need the chance and time to bed in.

I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable. I am reassured to see that steps have since been taken to introduce more easily accessible means by which to raise concerns electronically, in person or online, including directly with the Permanent Secretary in No 10. I hope that this will truly embed a culture that welcomes and creates opportunities for challenge and speaking up at all levels.

I also made a recommendation that steps should be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace. Since then guidance has been issued to all Government Departments.

The matter of what disciplinary action should now take place is outside of the scope of this report and is for others to consider. Nothing set out in this report can be taken as constituting a disciplinary investigation or findings of fact appropriate for such a purpose. However, I do offer a reflection: while there is no excuse for some of the behaviour set out here it is important to acknowledge that those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organised. I have no doubt that they will have taken the learning from this experience and, while this is not a matter for me, I hope this will be taken into account in considering any disciplinary action.

Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this. It is my firm belief, however, that these events did not reflect the prevailing culture in Government and the Civil Service at the time. Many thousands of people up and down the country worked tirelessly to deliver in unprecedented times. I remain immensely proud to be a civil servant and of the work of the service and the wider public sector during the pandemic.

This is from Labour’s Chris Bryant on the news that Boris Johnson is going to tell MP that he has been “humbled” by the Partygate report.

I remember Rupert Murdoch telling the DCMS select committee on phone hacking “this is the most humble day of my life”. He was lying. I expect the same level of insincerity from a supposedly “humbled” Boris Johnson today.

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) May 25, 2022

PMQs is starting shortly. And after that Boris Johnson will make his statement on the Sue Gray report.

This, from the Observer’s Michael Savage, probably sums up the initial media reaction to the Sue Gray report. It does not seem as fatal to Johnson as some people were expecting, and certainly not fatal.

Some damning details in the Sue Gray report… but the person who comes out badly (Martin Reynolds) has already departed – and the event that could’ve caused most problems for Johnson (the flat party) not investigated.

Hmm.

— Michael Savage (@michaelsavage) May 25, 2022

And this is what the report says about a leaving do on 18 June 2020 for Hannah Young, a No 10 official.

The link door log shows that a number of officials from the No 10 Private Office went through the link door between 19.51 and 20.16 including Martin Reynolds and Stuart Glassborow. They joined the other members of the Private Office, including No 10 official (1), already in the waiting room. Some brought pizza and prosecco and they were followed by others, over the next couple of hours. Helen MacNamara, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, attended for part of the evening and provided a karaoke machine which was set up in an adjoining office to the waiting room.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, returned from a meeting and noted that there were individuals in his waiting room. He stayed for a short time and before leaving for another meeting he gave permission for the use of his office for a short time.

The event lasted for a number of hours. There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals.

The event broke up in stages with a few members of staff leaving from around 21.00 and the last member of staff, who stayed to tidy up, leaving at 03.13.

Here is an extract from what the report says about the concerns raised ahead of the drinks party in the Number 10 garden on 20 May 2020. This is the one where Boris Johnson subsequently told MPs he “believed implicitly that this was a work event”. Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser at the time, has claimed he raised concerns about the decision to hold the drinks party, but Sue Gray says she can find no documentary evidence of this. She says:

A No 10 Director declined the invitation and told the investigation that they had raised with either Martin Reynolds [the PM’s principal private secretary] or his office that it was not a good idea.

Lee Cain, the then No 10 Director of Communications (a special adviser), also received the invitation. In response, he emailed Martin Reynolds, No 10 official (1), and Dominic Cummings at 14.35 on 20 May 2020 stating: ‘I’m sure it will be fine – and I applaud the gesture – but a 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden of no 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment.’ Lee Cain says he subsequently spoke to Martin Reynolds and advised him that the event should be cancelled. Martin Reynolds does not recall any such conversation. In addition, Dominic Cummings has also said that he too raised concerns, in writing. We have not found any documentary evidence of this.

Sue Gray never fully investigated alleged party in Downing Street flat, report reveals

On 13 November 2020, the day Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain quit No 10, it was claimed Carrie Johnson, the PM’s wife, hosted a party for her special adviser friends in the Downing Street flat. Carrie Johnson was very pleased to see Cummings and Cain go, and there were reports that Abba music was playing so loudly it could be heard some distance away. Boris Johnson attended at some point and there was surprise that neither he, nor his wife, were fined by the police over the event.

According to the Sunday Times, Carrie Johnson claimed that she and her advisers were holding a “strategy meeting”. The PM reportedly said he was interviewing an adviser about a possible job.

The report reveals that Sue Gray never properly investigated this. It says:

Following the announcement of the departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, a meeting was held in the No 10 flat from some time after 18.00 to discuss the handling of their departure. Five special advisers attended. The prime minister joined them at about 20.00. Food and alcohol were available. The discussion carried on later into the evening with attendees leaving at various points.

The information collected on this gathering is limited as the process of obtaining evidence had only just been commenced when the Metropolitan police announced their own investigations, which included events on the 13 November 2020. At this point I stopped my investigation, given the need to avoid any prejudice to the police investigation. Following the Metropolitan Police announcement on 19 May 2022 I considered whether or not to conduct any further investigation into this event but concluded it was not appropriate or proportionate to do so.

Here is a picture from the report of the cabinet room on the occasion of the surprise birthday party for Boris Johnson. That is the only occasion for which he was fined.

Boris Johnson and Simon Case in cabinet room on PM’s birthday
Boris Johnson and Simon Case in cabinet room on PM’s birthday. Photograph: Sue Gray report

Report found ‘multiple examples of lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff’

Here are Sue Gray’s conclusions. They are similar in tone to the conclusions of her interim “Update” published in January but there is new detail about how security and cleaning staff were treated by officials in No 10. “I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff,” Gray says.

The general findings set out in my update of 31st January 2022 still stand.

Whatever the initial intent, what took place at many of these gatherings and the way in which they developed was not in line with Covid guidance at the time. Even allowing for the extraordinary pressures officials and advisers were under, the factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that guidance. It is also clear, from the outcome of the police investigation, that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.

I have already commented in my update on what I found to be failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office. The events that I investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen. It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders. The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.

In my update I made a number of general limited findings, I am pleased progress is being made in addressing the issues I raised. I commented on the fragmentary and complicated leadership structures in No 10. Since my update there have been changes to the organisation and management of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office with the aim of creating clearer lines of leadership and accountability and now these need the chance and time to bed in.

I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable. I am reassured to see that steps have since been taken to introduce more easily accessible means by which to raise concerns electronically, in person or online, including directly with the Permanent Secretary in No 10. I hope that this will truly embed a culture that welcomes and creates opportunities for challenge and speaking up at all levels.

I also made a recommendation that steps should be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace. Since then guidance has been issued to all Government Departments.

The matter of what disciplinary action should now take place is outside of the scope of this report and is for others to consider. Nothing set out in this report can be taken as constituting a disciplinary investigation or findings of fact appropriate for such a purpose. However, I do offer a reflection: while there is no excuse for some of the behaviour set out here it is important to acknowledge that those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organised. I have no doubt that they will have taken the learning from this experience and, while this is not a matter for me, I hope this will be taken into account in considering any disciplinary action.

Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this. It is my firm belief, however, that these events did not reflect the prevailing culture in Government and the Civil Service at the time. Many thousands of people up and down the country worked tirelessly to deliver in unprecedented times. I remain immensely proud to be a civil servant and of the work of the service and the wider public sector during the pandemic.

Sue Gray report published

The Sue Gray report has been published. It’s here.

Johnson to tell MPs he has been ‘humbled’ by Partygate findings and ‘we have learned lesson’

Boris Johnson will tell MPs that he has been “humbled” by the findings of the Partygate inquiry and that “we have learned our lesson”, the BBC’s Chris Mason reports.

The Prime Minister is expected to tell the Commons:

“I commissioned this report to set the record straight and allow us all to move on. I accept full responsibility for my failings. I am humbled by the whole experience. We have learned our lesson.”

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) May 25, 2022

I’m told by a No10 source that one line in the report from Sue Gray is that she is “pleased progress is being made in addressing the issues I raised.”

Clearly we are yet to see the report for ourselves and to see her conclusions in the round.

(ends)

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) May 25, 2022

The obvious test for Johnson will be whether MPs, and the public, believe that the apology he issues today is sincere. In the past he has failed to convince people on this point.

The quote released to Mason provides a hint that he may have the same problem again. Johnson has been accused of failing to take responsibility for what happened, and “we have learned our lesson” is not the same as “I have learned my lesson”.

This is from Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former chief adviser, on the suggestion that Johnson will strengthen the role of Lord Geidt as a response to Partygate. (See 11.11am.)

Laughable spin re strengthening Geidt’s comic role — he doesn’t bother interviewing witnesses or asking for written evidence, he just says ‘all above board PM? Great, not guilty!’
Clouseau wd be higher grade investigation#IllegalDonations #coverup pic.twitter.com/thxaXNE7iu

— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) May 25, 2022

Cummings explained why he had so little faith in Geidt in a post on his Substack account on Monday. He wrote:

This is the same principle as shown in the Geidt inquiry into the PM’s illegal donations. Geidt simply did not speak to the key people involved or ask them for any evidence they had. E.g He knows, as does everyone in No 10, there are WhatsApp groups that provide evidence of the PM seeking illegal donations and seeking to hide his actions and then the coverup. But if the inquiry never looks for the evidence… Simple! PM cleared!

Boris Johnson will hold a press conference this afternoon at 3.30pm, Politics Home reports.

🚨 The Sue Gray report into “partygate” was handed to No 10 this morning

🗣 Boris Johnson will make a statement after #PMQS and hold a press conference at 3:30pm

👇 Here’s all the latest news and analyisis from PoliticsHome reporters in Westminster:

— PoliticsHome (@politicshome) May 25, 2022

Boris Johnson may anounce he is beefing up the powers of Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial standards, the Mirror’s Pippa Crerar suggests.

I’m told some talk at No 10 this morn of strengthening ministerial code to boost powers of PM’s ethics advisor – but yet to get sign off.

Lord Geidt indicated he wants power to independently launch probes into rule breaches.

All this & more on live bloghttps://t.co/TuTT9dU0AI

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) May 25, 2022

If so, this will come two months late. In December, after Geidt published the findings of his second investigation into the funding of the Downing Street flat refurbishment, Johnson promised Geidt that he would beef up his powers. The new system should be in place “by the end of March at the latest”, Johnson said.

Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, is pictured in at least one of the photographs in the Sue Gray report showing the surprise birthday event for Boris Johnson in the cabinet room, the Sun’s Harry Cole says.

Tricky for Cabinet Sec.. hear Case in at least one of three pics published from Cabinet room… but was not fined.. will heap pressure on the cops to explain their logic of that one given that Sunak got one for walking in.

— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) May 25, 2022

The publication of the Sue Gray report will revive claims that Boris Johnson lied to MPs when he told them that the Covid rules were followed at all times in Downing Street, and that parties did not take place. Last night on Newsnight Lewis Goodall looked back on what he actually said and considers what evidence might show that he did lie.

Tomorrow one of the central questions will be whether the Prime Minister knowingly misled Parliament. On tonight’s Newsnight I examined three occasions where he has made key partygate assertions and asked what we know about what he’s said already. pic.twitter.com/QeGb2rxR66

— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 24, 2022

From ITV’s Anushka Asthana

How worried is Boris Johnson today? I bumped into close ally last night who looked extremely relaxed and suggested they are not worried at all about no confidence letters getting close to threshold- BUT others were defo angry so let’s see

— Anushka Asthana (@AnushkaAsthana) May 25, 2022

Nine photographs are being published in or alongside the Sue Gray report, according to Tom Harwood from GB News.

UPDATE: I understand the 37 pages DO NOT include photographs.

Number 10 still waiting for the expected accompanying pictures.

— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) May 25, 2022

UPDATE: The photographs have been provided to No10. There are 9 of them.

— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) May 25, 2022

Boris Johnson receives Sue Gray’s report into Partygate

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that Boris Johnson has got the Sue Gray report. A spokesperson said:

We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided her final report to the prime minister.

No 10 is expected to say when the report will be published.

Mark Spencer, the leader of the Commons, has confirmed that Boris Johnson will make a statement to MPs about the Sue Gray report. This should be at 12.30pm, straight after PMQs.





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