Sue Gray’s account of lockdown busting gatherings at Downing Street and Whitehall has finally been released in full
The long-awaited Sue Gray report revealed details of gatherings where officials drank sickly, sang karaoke and got involved in an argument, at a time when millions of people across the country are not seeing friends and family could.
The report said the “senior leadership” in No. 10 must “take accountability” for the culture that led to lockdown rule breaks at a number of events in 2020 and 2021.
Ms Gray condemned the broader culture that was allowed to develop under Mr Johnson’s leadership.
She also said there had been “several instances of disrespect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff” during the events, which was “unacceptable”.
But what were the main points of the report? Here’s what you need to know.
What are the key points of the Sue Gray report?
The Downing Street meeting on 15 May 2020 was a “working meeting”
The report describes how the prime minister and his advisers had a long meeting at his office after a press conference before moving to the garden. It goes on to say that the assembly was made up of different groups and consisted of a series of “separate meetings”.
A picture of Mr Johnson sitting in the garden with his wife and others sparked widespread anger.
Mr Johnson brought the infamous pictured cheese and wine from his flat, the report said. However, it went on to say: “The outside portion of the meeting lasted 40 minutes to an hour and was briefly joined by the Prime Minister’s wife.” was”.
The Prime Minister did not know about his birthday party in advance
Prime Minister’s ally and Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns famously described Mr Johnson as “attacked with a cake” at the Cabinet Room event to mark his 56th birthday.
Mr Johnson was fined along with his wife and Rishi Sunak for the June 19, 2020 gathering. The report states that neither Mr Johnson nor Mr Sunak knew in advance that this was happening.
The report said: “The event lasted between 2.25pm and 2.45pm during which the Prime Minister was present. Those present consumed food and drink and some drank alcohol.”
Mr Johnson is seen with Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with sandwiches, juices and what appears to be Estrella lager – in one picture Mr Johnson can be seen holding up a can of beer.
The PM’s former private secretary, Martin Reynolds, boasted in a WhatsApp message to a special adviser that “we seem to have gotten away with the BYOB garden party,” according to Sue Gray’s report.
A Special Counsel No. 10 thanked Mr. Reynolds for “providing the wine” and said it was “a very nice touch and I know everyone appreciated it very much”.
In another WhatsApp message at an unknown time to a special adviser, Mr Reynolds wrote: “Good luck – a complete non-story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have gotten away with).”
do argument when leaving
A meeting was held at 70 Whitehall on 18 June 2020 to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary, Ms Gray’s interim report revealed in January.
Sue Gray’s account says the event took place in two phases, with the first attended by “over 25 people” who gathered to speak, including Mr Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings and Simon Case, then permanent secretary for Covid and the pandemic response in #10.
Former Owners and Ethics Chief Helen MacNamara provided the gathering with a karaoke machine.
The second phase continued drinking, Ms Gray reported: “The event lasted for several hours.
“Some individuals had excessive alcohol consumption.
“One person was sick. There was a small altercation between two other people.”
Raise a glass upon exit
Images released in the report show Mr Johnson raising a glass while surrounded by colleagues and bottles of wine.
Days after England’s second national lockdown was ordered, images showed the Prime Minister toasting outgoing communications chief Lee Cain on November 13, 2020.
Back then, organizers of large gatherings of more than 30 people could have been fined £10,000.
Sue Gray’s report said: “On November 13, it was publicly announced that two of the Prime Minister’s most senior advisers, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, were leaving the Government.
“Later that day there was a farewell speech and drinks at No 10 for Lee Cain, which the Prime Minister attended.”
Investigations into “Abba Party” stopped
Sue Gray gave up her investigation into the ‘Abba party’ at Boris Johnson’s flat despite finding alcohol in the house the night Dominic Cummings was evicted from Downing Street.
It was dubbed the “Abba Party” because of reports that Abba songs were blaring. Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, was reportedly at the event during England’s second national lockdown on November 13, 2020.
Although no music was mentioned in the report, the senior official noted that the Prime Minister attended the gathering along with five special advisers in the middle of lockdown, but halted her work after gathering only “limited” information when the Metropolitan Police announced their investigation began.
Ms Gray said a “meeting” was being held at the Prime Minister’s residence from “some time after” 6pm to discuss “how to deal with the departure” with five special advisers.
She noted that Mr Johnson attended the event around 8pm where “food and alcohol were available”.
A cleaner found spilled red wine on the wall after the Christmas party
Staff “drank excessively” at the Downing Street Christmas party on December 18, 2020 and the next morning red wine was spilled on a wall, the report said.
The publication said: “There was food and alcohol that had been bought and brought by staff. Some employees drank excessively. The event was crowded and noisy, so some people working elsewhere that night in building #10 heard significant levels of noise originating from what they called a “party” at the press office.
“A cleaner who visited the room the next morning found that red wine had been spilled on a wall and on several boxes of copy paper.”
On the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, staff drank into the early hours
According to the report, two departures took place on April 16, 2021, including one for outgoing communications chief James Slack.
After the two events in Downing Street’s garden were merged, some staff began leaving around 9.30pm after being encouraged by the No 10 caretaker to use the back exit, but some stayed in the building and continued drinking.
Exit logs showed that some employees left after midnight, followed by others between 1:45 and 2:45 a.m.
According to the report, two employees stayed even later, one leaving at 3:11 a.m. and the last at 4:20 a.m.
What were the conclusions of the report?
The report found that many of the gaterings, and the way they unfolded, were not “consistent” with Covid guidance at the time, regardless of “original intent”.
Among the conclusions of the report it says:
- Many of the events “should not have happened”
- Some of the young officials felt that their attendance at events was permissible given the presence of high-ranking executives
- The center’s leadership, both political and official, must be “accountable” for this culture.
- Employees had observed or been exposed to behaviors at work that they felt concerned about but sometimes felt unable to adequately address
- It recommended that steps be taken to ensure that every government agency has a clear policy covering alcohol consumption in the workplace
- Since then, guidelines have been issued to all government departments.
What was said about the results?
Covid-19 Survivors for Justice spokesman Lobby Akinnola, whose 60-year-old father Olufemi died of coronavirus in April 2020, said: “There you have it. While the country had one of the highest death rates in the world from Covid-19, they partied over cheese and wine and drank themselves sick over a karaoke machine.
“Not content to celebrate while failing to protect our loved ones, the Prime Minister has now spent months ignoring and lying to us.
“He treated us like they treated their cleaners and security guards, who at the time questioned their breaking the law: like we were an inconvenience, like we were dirt.”
https://www.nationalworld.com/news/uk/sue-gray-report-key-points-report-into-partygate-gatherings-3708596 Report by Sue Grey: What were the key points?