‘Frat house culture’ at Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat ‘led to aides banning him from taking top-secret documents home after he left them lying around in view of visitors’
Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary since October 2019, insisted that Mr Johnson’s review and approve secret intelligence requests from his office after complaints the flat he lives in with wife Carrie had become a security risk.
The rule change was introduced at the beginning of 2020 when then senior political aide Dominic Cummings became concerned over the ‘frat house’ atmosphere both within their flat above No 11 and their private rooms at Chequers – Mr Johnson’s country home.
Mr Cummings is said to have visited the couple’s flat and found Carrie and her friends relaxing while the Prime Minister’s red box, containing confidential ‘Strap’ documents, had been left lying around in view of the guests, The Sunday Times reports.
Paperwork is taken home in red boxes by ministers to be perused and studied overnight, with strap documents identifiable as they are printed on distinctive pink paper.
The codeword normally means the documents have been classified as ‘top secret’ and are usually only distributed to individuals on a restricted list.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and his wife Carrie (R) arrive at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in October last year
Former senior political aide Dominic Cummings is said to have visited the the Prime Minister’s flat and found Carrie and her friends relaxing while the Mr Johnson’s red box was left lying around and in view of guests
The flat above No 11 Downing Street, which Mr Cummings claims had a ‘frat house’ atmosphere and led to changes to protocols that prevented Mr Johnson from taking confidential documents into his home
The revelation has come to light as part of Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street gatherings during lockdown, expected to be published next week in redacted form, that ‘several’ of Carrie’s friends were given the access code to enter the No 11 flat.
A former No 10 official said Mr Cummings spoke to Mr Reynolds after becoming ‘dismayed’ that classified Strap material was being left ‘lying around the flat’ and ‘upstairs in Chequers’.
Mr Cummings is understood to have said the documents were being left in such a way that ‘Carrie could see it and potentially her journalist friends’ and there had been a ‘string of leaks related to national security’.
Mr Johnson’s aide and private secretary agreed new protocols to prevent sensitive documents going to the flat or Chequers.
Material was to be shown to the Prime Minister downstairs in No 10 and then ‘immediately returned to safekeeping’ instead.
Mr Johnson (right) pictured alongside his Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds, who agreed a rule change with Mr Cummings
Another source told The Sunday Times that documents would often ‘be there in the morning and often still there in the evening’ after not being touched.
Downing Street has refused to comment on the claims.
In 2019, former Prime Minister Theresa May and others in the intelligence community allegedly withheld sensitive intelligence from Mr Johnson after he was made Foreign Secretary over concerns regarding his ability to keep information confidential.
Claims over the ‘frat house’ atmosphere come as Sue Gray’s report has taken evidence about a ‘Winner Takes It All’ Abba party to mark the resignation of Dominic Cummings, The Mail on Sunday has been told.
It is understood that, as part of her inquiry into socialising in Boris Johnson’s No 10 flat, Sue Gray has been told about a ‘victory party’ held by friends of the Prime Minister’s then fiancée Carrie Symonds on the night of November 13, 2020, after Mr Cummings had left with his belongings in a box.
The senior aide allegedly lost a power struggle with Ms Symonds and other advisers.
‘There was the sound of lots of banging and dancing and drinking, and a number of Abba tracks – including a triumphalist Winner Takes It All,’ a source said.
A spokesman for Mrs Johnson said: ‘It is totally untrue to suggest Mrs Johnson held a party in the Downing Street flat on November 13, 2020.’