Politics LIVE: Sue Gray report to be stripped of details of Downing Street parties

The Prime Minister is set to face further questions over a police investigation into partygate as No 10 braces for the submission of a report into possible lockdown breaches.

Friday, 28th January 2022, 8:22 am
The Prime Minister is set to face further questions over a police investigation into partygate as No 10 braces for the submission of a report into possible lockdown breaches.
The Prime Minister is set to face further questions over a police investigation into partygate as No 10 braces for the submission of a report into possible lockdown breaches.

Boris Johnson faced Sir Keir Starmer and other members of the Opposition in PMQs while the Gray inquiry nears.

Scotland Yard has confirmed it asked “for minimal reference” to be made in the Sue Gray report to alleged incidents on Downing Street the force is currently investigating.

In a statement, it said: “For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report.

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“The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.”

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Downing Street partygate: Boris Johnson faces critical day in battle for surviva...

Police launched their own probe into multiple events in No 10 after being passed information from the Gray inquiry.

We’ll have live updates in our blog.

Politics LIVE: Downing Street braced for Sue Gray report as Boris Johnson faces further questions

Last updated: Friday, 28 January, 2022, 14:24

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “A stitch-up between the Met leadership and No 10 will damage our politics for generations, and it looks like it is happening right in front of our eyes.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, conceded that “any issues of prejudice have got to be worked through”.

But he told broadcasters during a visit to Glasgow: “What I want to see is Sue Gray’s report in full and the investigation finished as quickly as possible, because we’re in this situation where the whole of Government is paralysed because the police are looking at what the Prime Minister was getting up to in Downing Street.”

Amid warnings of a possible “stitch-up”, Government minister Chris Philp insisted that “between Sue Gray’s report and the police investigation everything will be fully covered”.

He told broadcasters: “I think the Sue Gray report is independent, the Government aren’t interfering with it.”

Fran Hall, spokesperson for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice campaign group, said: “I lost my husband to Covid-19 in October 2020, he had served in the police for over 30 years. All I want is to know the truth about what happened to him, just like the other hundreds of thousands of families like mine that have lost other loved ones to Covid-19, so that lessons can be learnt and we can move forward with our lives.

“Tragically, it seems here that the Metropolitan Police have broken the trust of the public by first refusing to investigate flagrant law breaking, and now demanding any other investigations hide the most serious illegalities happening at Downing Street.

“It’s incredibly painful and they have let families like mine down. My husband was completely committed to justice, and he would have been appalled by this.

“As we predicted, the Sue Gray investigation has turned into a circus. The reality is that it’s clear that the Prime Minister broke his own laws blatantly and regularly, whilst families across the country stuck with them and suffered greatly for doing so. If he had any decency he would do the right thing and resign, but that quite clearly isn’t going to happen.

“This sorry saga has proven that families like mine can only rely on an independent, statutory inquiry which looks at the Government’s entire handling of the pandemic and puts them at its heart to get the answers they need. The very least that can happen now is for that to begin as quickly as possible.”

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “The Sue Gray report must be published in full and undoctored without further delay. This UK Government farce has gone on long enough.

“People are understandably concerned that this increasingly looks like a cover up.

“It is a fact that Boris Johnson broke the rules, lied about it, and misled Parliament. This is an extremely serious resignation matter – and he must be held to account.

“The Prime Minister cannot be allowed to wriggle off the hook by using the Metropolitan Police investigation as an excuse to further delay or doctor the report.

“This cannot be another Whitewall whitewash. There must be maximum transparency.

“Any attempt to cover this up or delay the inevitable would be completely unacceptable – and would erode any last remnants of public trust in the Westminster Government.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire

What details are contained in Sue Gray’s report is for the senior civil servant and the police to “work out between them”, a Government minister has said.

It came after Scotland Yard asked for the Whitehall inquiry into allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street to make only “minimal reference” to the events being investigated by police.

Technology minister Chris Philp, asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme about the development, said: “I saw that report just a few minutes ago.

“The way that the Sue Gray report gets put together is something that is a matter entirely for Sue Gray. It is up to her and the police how to handle that.

“Clearly, between Sue Gray and the police, this will get fully investigated – as it should.

“But the important thing to say is that the Government have no influence and no involvement in how Sue Gray and the police conduct their respective reports and investigations, which is right – it is right they are fully independent.

“So, between the two of them, they will cover all of the incidents that need investigating so the public and Parliament have a full and proper account. But that is up to Sue Gray and the police to work that out between them – it is not something the Government should or would interfere with.”

The statement indicates Ms Gray will either have to make significant changes to her report before publication or delay it until after the police inquiry concludes.

Sources close to the inquiry have previously indicated that she was concerned about the prospect of releasing a report that was shorn of some of its key findings.

Officers have not confirmed how many events they are investigating, but reports have suggested it could be as high as eight.

The Metropolitan Police insisted officers had not asked for senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report to be delayed or placed any further restrictions on other events.

But the force said it remained in contact with the Cabinet Office team to “avoid any prejudice to our investigation”.

Boris Johnson continues to anxiously await Ms Gray’s report, which has the potential to trigger a vote of no confidence in his leadership by Tory MPs angered over alleged breaches.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report.

“The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.”

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