Sue Gray ‘could publish anonymised photos’ of Downing Street partying in bombshell report on lawbreaking due next week – but her plans are being ‘frustrated’ by Scotland Yard refusing to reveal who was fined
The civil service inquisitor is considering including anonymised images she received of boozy gatherings as part of her much-anticipated analysis.
But she could also include more general, bland images of the rooms in which parties occurred, the Times reported.
The report is expected to be highly critical of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ms Gray has demanded the Partygate scandal ringleaders are named.
However, the senior civil servant’s attempts to finalise the report are being hindered by Scotland Yard’s refusal to identify the 83 people who received 126 fines between them.
Ms Gray wants to point the finger at more than a dozen officials for 16 events across Whitehall but has struggled to contend with the Met Police’s secrecy.
Sources with knowledge of the discussions told the Telegraph she was in discussions with the Civil Service human resources, legal teams and unions to see how much she can assign blame to individuals.
They added she was worried she would face pressure to keep some names from the public.
Some of the most damaging revelations will include how a party in the Cabinet Office ended with a boozy fight. Sources last night said a number of the findings would make people think ‘Oh Lord!’ because they had been kept secret until now.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab today said there should be ‘transparency’ about any ministers who have been fined.
Sue Gray (pictured) has demanded the Partygate scandal ringleaders are named in her long-awaited report on No 10 lockdown gatherings
Prime minister Boris Johnson is seen walking past a Metropolitan Police Van from the Tory Party Head Quarters back to Downing Street, Central London
Parts of Sue Gray’s long-awaited report into the No 10 parties will provoke an ‘Oh Lord!’ response when it is published next week, sources claimed
Whitehall insiders said Miss Gray was still ‘weighing up’ whether to publish some of the more than 300 photographs she gathered during her investigation, including some taken by No 10’s official photographer
Asked if Downing Street was trying to prevent the senior civil servant from publishing individual names in her report into social events at Downing Street during pandemic lockdown restrictions, Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast that that was a matter for the police and Ms Gray.
‘I think that these are matters, who is identified, for Sue Gray and the Met’, he said.
‘What we have said is that it’s right that if there’s a minister who has been fined, of course there needs to be transparency around that. I think that’s right.’
It is understood that the report, which is most likely to be published on either Tuesday or Wednesday, will be up to 36 pages long.
However, a source said Miss Gray’s report would not be as damning as some of Mr Johnson’s fiercest critics are hoping.
Whitehall insiders said Miss Gray was still ‘weighing up’ whether to publish some of the more than 300 photographs she gathered during her investigation, including some taken by No 10’s official photographer.
A former director of public prosecutions today said the public ‘remain very much in the dark’ about the details of Partygate.
Asked about junior workers being fined for incidents which the Prime Minister was not fined for, Lord Macdonald told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think without the police providing an explanation for that it’s very difficult for us to understand why they came to the conclusions that they did.’
He said it was not known why the Prime Minister was fined for being at one party, but not others, or why Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was not fined.
‘We don’t know who these people are, and I do feel for the junior civil servants and I quite see why they would be distressed by their names being given, but there’s a wider public interest here.
‘This was a major scandal at the heart of Government, at the heart of the civil service, and we remain very much in the dark about who was involved, who organised the parties, and who was responsible.
‘Of course the Prime Minister and the head of the civil service are ultimately responsible, but there plainly were other people as well who were involved in this and we simply don’t know who they are, and I think that’s not good enough.’
It is understood that Miss Gray will present a factual account of all the gatherings such as how many people attended and what happened. She looked into 12 events investigated by the police, as well as four others.
The Whitehall mandarin will also expand on comments made in her interim report earlier this year when she found ‘failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No10 and the Cabinet Office’.
Miss Gray was prevented from publishing her full findings when Scotland Yard launched its own investigation in January.
She is expected to consult lawyers and human resources managers as she makes final tweaks this weekend.
No 10 has committed to publishing it in full soon after it has been completed and Boris Johnson will give a statement to the Commons.
Miss Gray and her Cabinet Office team have interviewed more than 70 people including the Prime Minister as part of her inquiry, as well as examining emails, WhatsApp messages and text messages.
She was forced to publish in January a scaled-down version of her report into what happened after the police asked her to make only ‘minimal reference’ to the gatherings it is investigating.
The Prime Minister ordered the inquiry in December after a video emerged of Downing Street staff joking about a rule-breaking party.
He asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to ‘establish all the facts’ about the event, but Mr Case was forced to stand down from leading the probe after just ten days when it emerged a gathering was held in his own office.
Downing Street garden party attended by Mr Johnson, his then fiancee Carrie Symonds and staff
He was replaced by Miss Gray. The inquiry was later widened to include other events such as a No10 virtual Christmas quiz, leaving-dos for several aides and a festive bash at the Department for Education.
The terms of reference for the inquiry state that its ‘primary purpose’ was to ‘establish swiftly a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings, including attendance, the setting and the purpose, with reference to adherence to the guidance in place at the time’.
Miss Gray developed a fearsome reputation among ministers and officials in her former job as head of the ethics team in the Cabinet Office.
She dealt with complaints against ministers that effectively ended the ministerial careers of Damian Green and Andrew Mitchell.
Apart from a brief career break – to run a pub in Newry, Northern Ireland – she has worked in Whitehall for more than 20 years.
Former minister David Laws said previously: ‘It took me precisely two years before I realised finally who it is that runs Britain. Our great United Kingdom is actually entirely run by a lady called Sue Gray. Unless she agrees, things just don’t happen.’
Which bashes have the police issued fines for?
– May 20, 2020: BYOB garden party
A leaked email from senior civil servant Martin Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees invited them to ‘bring your own booze’ for an evening gathering.
The PM admitted attending the gathering, but previously insisted he believed it was a work event which could ‘technically’ have been within the rules.
– June 18, 2020: Cabinet Office gathering
A gathering in the Cabinet Office on this date was being investigated by the police. The event was apparently held to mark the departure of a Number 10 private secretary.
– June 19, 2020: Birthday party for the PM
Downing Street admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room after a meeting. Reports suggested up to 30 people attended and the PM was presented with a cake.
The PM, his wife Carrie Johnson – said to have organised the bash – and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have all received fines.
Reports said Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of Mr and Mrs Johnson’s No 10 flat, briefly attended while undertaking work in Downing Street.
– November 13, 2020: Leaving party for senior aide and Abba Party
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Dominc Cummings.
There were also claims a party with loud Abba music was held in the No11 flat that evening to celebrate the ousting of Mr Cain and Mr Cummings following a power struggle with Mrs Johnson.
The premier is thought to have insisted he was interviewing one of those present for a potential job.
– December 17, 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’
A gathering was held in the Cabinet Office on December 17.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is said to have attended the party in room 103 of the Cabinet Office.
It was apparently organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and included in digital calendars as: ‘Christmas party!’
The Cabinet Office confirmed a quiz took place, but a spokesman said: ‘The Cabinet Secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office.’
– December 18, 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street
The claim that kicked off the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.
Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the PM is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference – although it is not clear whether she attended.
– January 14, 2021: Number 10 leaving do for two staff members
The Sue Gray update previously revealed that an event in Downing Street for the departure of two No10 private secretaries was being looked at by the police.
– April 16, 2021: Drinks and dancing the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
Advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.
They were marking the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the PM’s personal photographers.
Mr Slack, who left his Number 10 role to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his leaving do, while Downing Street apologised to the Queen.
Mr Johnson is not believed to have been in Downing Street that day and is said to have been at Chequers.
Accounts from witnesses said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, adding that it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined.