Partygate scandal: who is Martin Reynolds – what did he say?

The official is at the center of the recent series of parties at Downing Street

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He said staff should “make the most of the nice weather” despite the country being under strict coronavirus restrictions that ban groups from gathering outdoors socially at the time the message was sent.

The leaked email obtained by ITV News reads: “Hello everyone, after an incredibly busy time we thought it would be nice to make the most of the beautiful weather and have some social distancing in Garden No 10 tonight to have drinks.

Here’s everything you need to know about him.

Who is Martin Reynolds?

Martin Reynolds, a British civil servant, was formerly the UK Ambassador to Libya and currently serves as the Prime Minister’s private secretary.

Before joining government, Reynolds worked as a lawyer in London and became a diplomat, serving as Deputy High Commissioner at the British High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa from 2011.

In 2014, Reynolds became Senior Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for part of that period while Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary.

Reynolds served as the UK Ambassador to Libya for five months between April and September 2019.

Reynolds was recalled from his overseas post in Africa after Peter Hill resigned from his role as chief private secretary to the prime minister following Johnson’s appointment as prime minister in 2019.

He was officially inducted into his new role in October 2019.

What does Reynolds do?

As Boris Johnson’s chief private secretary, Reynolds plays a key role in advising the Prime Minister on a wide range of issues.

Johnson’s former adviser Dominic Cummings said the influence of Downing Street’s key private secretary was not widely appreciated.

“The PPS wields far more influence and actual power than cabinet ministers on many issues,” Cummings said.

“He can nudge politics, he can nudge important appointments (real power). He can and will go to the Prime Minister’s office and lock out all political people “for security reasons.”

Boris Johnson (then Foreign Secretary) attends a meeting with Martin Reynolds (far left), US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun in 2016 (Photo: KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AFP via Getty Images)

Has Reynolds left Downing Street?

Mr Reynolds has been heavily criticized by opposition politicians following the release of the leaked email invitation to drinks in Downing Street’s garden.

Allegra Stratton, a former adviser to Boris Johnson and former Downing Street press secretary, resigned in December 2021 after leaked footage showed her joking about the gatherings with colleagues at a mock Covid press conference.

It is therefore possible that other people below the Prime Minister may resign after Ms Gray’s report is released.

On 3 February 2022, Mr Reynolds announced his resignation from Downing Street and was replaced on 8 March by Peter Wilson as the Prime Minister’s chief private secretary.

The Prime Minister’s former chief private secretary was further embroiled in the Partygate scandal after the report showed he had sent colleagues a message saying they had “got away with it”.

In an email included in the official Partygate inquiry, Mr Reynolds told a colleague: “Good luck, a complete non-story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have gotten away with are).”

Will Johnson step down?

Johnson “can’t run and he can’t hide” from claims an aide organized a Bring Your Own Alcohol Downing Street drinks party during the first lockdown, Labor’s miliband said.

Health Secretary Ed Argar has said “appropriate disciplinary action” should be taken if rules are found to have been broken at an alleged drinks party at Downing Street in May 2020.

Asked whether the Prime Minister should leave if it turns out he was at the alleged event, Argar said: “I think it’s important that we wait and see what happens [Sue Gray] says about the facts.”

Cabinet official Sue Gray, the senior official investigating allegations of gatherings in government that broke the lockdown, has confirmed she is looking into the May 20 event as part of her inquiry, along with a separate dated gathering May 15, revealed by a leaked photo, shows the Prime Minister and staff sitting around a table with cheese and wine.

Argar told BBC Breakfast: “I can totally understand why people who have lost loved ones, or people whose lives have just been severely disrupted by these restrictions, would be angry and upset by these allegations.

“That’s why it’s the right thing to do [Gray] investigates the facts and will report, and she may proceed with that investigation wherever she must without fear or favor.”

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson condemned the alleged Downing Street drink party, saying on Twitter: “This line will not last 48 hours.

“Nobody needs an official to tell them if they’ve been to a boozy fairground in their own backyard. People are (rightly) angry. They have sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals. What was one of these people thinking?”

Asked whether the police should be involved if Gray finds any wrongdoing in government during the lockdown, Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: “If he has clearly broken the law then this should be referred to the police, and the police should take care of it.” Partygate scandal: who is Martin Reynolds – what did he say?


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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