Sue Gray has blamed “failures of leadership and judgment” in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office for the partygate scandal which has rocked Boris Johnson’s government.
The senior civil servant said it was “difficult to justify” the controversial gatherings as she criticised the “excessive consumption of alcohol” by government staff.
The bombshell findings are contained in Gray’s 12-page report into alleged lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, which was finally published at 2.20pm today.
The report said: “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.
“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. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did.
“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.”
Gray took over the inquiry after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who was initially tasked with investigating the partygate allegations, was forced to quit when it emerged a gathering was held in his own office before Christmas in 2020.
She had been expected to deliver it to the PM last week, but the Metropolitan Police’s announcement last Tuesday that it was launching an investigation of their own into some of the alleged parties held up the process.
The Met then said the Gray report should only make “minimal references” to the gatherings they are probing, further delaying the process.
Her eagerly-anticipated report was finally handed to Number 10 shortly after 11am today.
In a statement, the Cabinet Office confirmed that Gray – who spoke to Johnson over the weekend – had “provided an update on her investigation” to the Prime Minister.
Johnson then had around two hours to digest its contents with his closest aides before it was published on the government website.
He will make a statement to MPs in the House of Commons at 3.30pm before addressing Conservative MPs at 6.30pm.