Sue Gray's Partygate report into rule-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall during the Covid lockdown has been published in full. More than 120 fines have been handed out by police after parties were held during the pandemic, but few of those involved have been named or pictured until now.
Boris Johnson brought the cheese and wine pictured in a garden gathering on May 15 2020 from his flat, according to the Sue Gray report.
She wrote that the Prime Minister and advisers had a lengthy meeting in his office following a press conference before moving into the garden.
“The Prime Minister brought cheese and wine from his flat. The outdoor part of the meeting lasted for 40 minutes to an hour and they were briefly joined by the Prime Minister’s wife, during which time the photograph was taken. Martin Reynolds subsequently returned to the office to continue working,” she wrote.
“The Prime Minister remained in the garden until around 19.20. There is a further group of four individuals sitting at a table on the terrace. It has not been possible to identify these individuals, but there is no reason to suggest that this was anything other than a further work meeting.”
In her report on partygate Sue Gray said “many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government” and “what happened fell well short” of the standards expected.
As well as a 37-page report, the documents handed to No 10 include nine photos related to partygate incidents, including pictures of the Prime Minister, Mr Case and Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Mr Johnson will make a statement to MPs in the Commons later on Wednesday.
Boris Johnson is expected to tell the Commons he will “accept full responsibility for my failings” over partygate.
“I commissioned this report to set the record straight and allow us all to move on,” he is expected to tell MPs.
“I accept full responsibility for my failings. I am humbled by the whole experience.”
He will say he has learned the lessons from the situation.
Sue Gray said she learned of multiple examples of “unacceptable” treatment of security and cleaning staff during her partygate investigation.
She wrote: “I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly.
“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable.”
He will also hold a press conference in Downing Street and address the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs who will have to decide whether the findings are sufficiently serious to warrant a push to oust him.
Officials affected by the inquiry, including those to be named, were written to ahead of its publication, allowing them to have a chance to respond before it was finalised.
Ms Gray investigated events on 12 dates, including some that were not included in Scotland Yard's inquiry.
- 15 May 2020 - a gathering in the Downing Street garden where staff were pictured with cheese and wine *
- 20 May 2020 - a BYOB bash in the Downing Street garden
- 18 June 2020 - a karaoke leaving do in the Cabinet Office to mark the departure of No10 official Hannah Young
- 19 June 2020 - a surprise birthday event for Boris Johnson in the Cabinet room in No10
- 13 November 2020 - 'Abba party' in the PM's No11 flat. Also a leaving do for No10 comms chief Lee Cain
- 27 November 2020 - a leaving do in Downing Street for special adviser Cleo Watson *
- 10 December 2020 - a gathering in the Department for Education ahead of the Christmas holiday *
- 15 December 2020 - a No10 online Christmas quiz *
- 17 December 2020 - an online Christmas quiz for the Cabinet Secretary’s private office. Also a leaving do in the Cabinet Office for Kate Josephs, a former director general of the Covid taskforce. Also a No10 leaving do for defence aide Captain Steve Higham
- 18 December 2020 - No10 Christmas party
- 14 January 2021 - a Prosecco-fueled leaving do two No10 private secretaries
- 16 April 2021 - Two leaving dos for No10 comms chief James Slack and a photographer in No10 on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral
A No 10 special adviser warned the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, that it would be “helpful” if people avoided “walking around with bottles of wine” ahead of the Bring Your Own Booze party on May 20 2020 as it was taking place after a press conference, the Sue Gray report has said.
The report states: “[A] No 10 special adviser sent a message to Martin Reynolds by WhatsApp at 14.08 stating ‘Drinks this eve is a lovely idea so I’ve shared with the E & V team who are in the office. Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc.’
“Martin Reynolds replied ‘Will do my best!'”
Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry has said “today should be the day” the Prime Minister “takes responsibility for coming to Parliament and lying to us” and resigns.
Speaking to Times Radio, the shadow attorney general said Boris Johnson could not “front this out” by “wriggling and lying and trying to drag other people in” to cover up for him over ‘partygate’.
“He allowed the culture in No 10 to be so debased,” Ms Thornberry said.
“Today should be the day he takes responsibility for coming to Parliament and lying to us.”
She said: “Our democracy depends on politicians not being allowed to lie like that.
Ms Thornberry added: “He should do the right thing today and resign.”