Covid lockdown parties: Sue Gray report finds 'failures of leadership' in Downing Street and Cabinet Office

The Sue Gray report has claimed the Downing Street gatherings during lockdown showed a “serious failure” to observe the standards expected.
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Published after weeks of speculation, the abridged version of the report also found “failures of leadership” in both Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.

The document also suggested police are investigating 12 gatherings that Ms Gray had looked at as part of her inquiry.

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This includes one on November 13, 2020 to celebrate the exit of Dominic Cummings – a party Boris Johnson had explicitly denied took place.

The Sue Gray report was published on MondayThe Sue Gray report was published on Monday
The Sue Gray report was published on Monday
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Sue Gray Report LIVE: Downing Street parties investigation findings made public

It came in a pared down report following a Met investigation into the parties across Number 10 and Whitehall, with police asking Ms Gray not to include the parties they are investigating.

The report said: “Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify.

“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.

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“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.”

Ms Gray explained it was “not possible at present to provide a meaningful report” setting out all she discovered, due to the ongoing police investigation.

“As a result of the Metropolitan Police’s investigations, and so as not to prejudice the police investigative process, they have told me that it would only be appropriate to make minimal reference to the gatherings on the dates they are investigating,” she wrote.

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“Unfortunately, this necessarily means that I am extremely limited in what I can say about those events and it is not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather.”

The Gray report concluded: “The gatherings within the scope of this investigation are spread over a 20-month period – a period that has been unique in recent times in terms of the complexity and breadth of the demands on public servants and indeed the general public.

“The whole of the country rose to the challenge. Ministers, special advisers and the Civil Service, of which I am proud to be a part, were a key and dedicated part of that national effort.

“However, as I have noted, a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did. There is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across Government. This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called for the Prime Minister to resign.

He said: “The findings of the Gray report are clear – Boris Johnson has lied and is not fit to continue as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

“At a time of extreme hardship for the people of the UK, it is clear that Boris Johnson has presided over an unacceptable workplace culture at number ten.

“Every second that Boris Johnson remains in office he further degrades the office of Prime Minister.”

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The Prime Minister will make a statement on the report on Monday afternoon.

Responding to the report, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: “Everyone knows Boris Johnson broke the rules and lied to the country.

“It’s time Conservative MPs did their patriotic duty, listened to their constituents and stood up for decency by sacking Boris Johnson.

“He must go before he does our country any more harm.”

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted: “During this crisis, our country needed a leader more than at any time since the Second World War.

“We didn’t get one. This report shows what we have known all along: The Prime Minister is a coward, a rule-breaker and needs to step down.”