Sue Gray’s ‘brutal’ report will find head of civil service bears ‘ultimate responsibility’ for Partygate and pile heavy pressure on him to resign, sources believe
The Cabinet Secretary will come under significant pressure to resign this week amid expectations that the Sue Gray report will find he bears ‘ultimate responsibility’ for Partygate, reports say.
Head of the civil service Simon Case is bracing for a ‘brutal’ report which will levy ‘stinging criticism’ towards his leadership and conduct during his time in Downing Street, The Telegraph reports.
A well-placed source said despite the fact that Mr Case did not get a police fine, ‘it is clear he was not only present at illegal events, but even helped organise some gatherings’.
The source added: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that Sue was flabbergasted Simon did not receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). But that has not changed her view that his conduct in all of this fell well short of the standards expected.
‘There was a failure of leadership both across Number 10 and the Cabinet Office and Sue will not pull any punches in setting that out. The final report will be brutal.’
It comes after one of Boris Johnson’s senior ministers failed to deny the PM organised a controversial meeting with Partygate probe author Sue Gray – but insisted that he wasn’t trying to influence her report.
Head of the civil service Simon Case (left) is bracing for a ‘brutal’ report which will levy ‘stinging criticism’ towards his leadership and conduct during his time in Downing Street, reports say. The Conservative Party has growing confidence that Boris Johnson will survive the scandal, but Mr Case will be identified and face significant scrutiny, sources believe
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi endured a torturous interview on Sky News on Sunday morning as he claimed he did not know who initiated the controversial face-to-face meeting.
Ms Gray is due to publish her completed investigation into Covid lawbreaking in Downing Street this week, but it was revealed yesterday that she and the PM met several weeks ago to discuss what she was writing.
Downing Street initially insisted the meeting was called at Ms Gray’s request, something she later denied. The Sunday Times later claimed it was initiated by Samantha Jones, the Permanent Secretary in No10.
Separately, The Mail on Sunday has been told the pair discussed whether pictures containing intelligence officers could be published – something denied by No 10.
But Mr Zahawi danced on the head of a pin over the matter for nine minutes when questioned by Sophy Ridge this morning.
It comes after one of Boris Johnson’s senior ministers today failed to deny the PM organised a controversial meeting with Partygate probe author Sue Gray – but insisted that he wasn’t trying to influence her report. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi endured a torturous interview on Sky News on Sunday morning as he claimed he did not know who initiated the controversial face-to-face meeting
Sue Gray (above) is set to publish her report on lockdown parties at Downing Street this week
Appearing on Ridge on Sunday he eventually claimed he did not know who arranged it, but insisted that the Prime Minister had not been trying to influence the outcome of the report.
He said people were trying to cast ‘an air of doubt’ over the report’s findings. Asked if he could not say who called the meeting because he did not ask No 10, or because it did not tell him, Mr Zahawi said: ‘The answer is the Prime Minister will never intervene in Sue Gray’s investigation. The Prime Minister wants Sue Gray to basically go wherever the evidence takes her.’
Asked what reason the PM might have for meeting Ms Gray prior to the publication of the report, he said: ‘If a meeting’s gone in the diary for Sue Gray and the Prime Minister to meet, I guarantee you it’s not because the Prime Minister wants to influence the report.’
Later, appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Morning he said reporters were ‘throwing mud at something that doesn’t exist’. He also suggested the meeting could have been conducted because of Ms Gray’s other responsibilities for the levelling-up agenda.
Mr Johnson is backing Ms Gray to publish photos as part of her final report into Partygate lawbreaking because he believes they help dispel the idea that Downing Street behaved like ‘Ibiza on a Saturday night’ during lockdown.
No10 is reported to be backing the top civil servant’s desire to include images of illicit gatherings by top officials and politicians because they help rather than hinder his position.
Ms Gray, who is preparing to release the final version of her lengthy investigation this week, was given hundreds of photos of events in Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 and is said to be considering including some to show the scale of events.