Why the mystery 'partygate' email mentioned in Dominic Cummings' blog really matters

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston on the significance of the email mentioned in Dominic Cummings' blog

I know who sent the email to Martin Reynolds on 20 May 2020 telling him the planned “bring your own booze” party should not go ahead - though the sender tells me he does not want to be seen as agent provocateur against the prime minister and has asked me not to name him. Before I go on, I regard the evidence of this “senior official” - as styled by Dominic Cummings in his Monday blog - as compelling, because if it turns out he is lying he knows it will come out and he would be seriously damaged. The email was copied to an official in Reynolds’s office and to the PM’s then main aide - now estranged - Mr Cummings.

Sue Gray, who is investigating that party and others, can easily find the email, since there will not be so many received by Mr Reynolds and Mr Cummings on 20 May.

Read the latest update on this story: Sue Gray finds email from official warning against Number 10 drinks party in May 2020

Boris Johnson's former advisor Dominic Cummings

She has also told the sender of the dynamite email she would like to speak with him but has not yet. When she does, he will both point her to the email and he will tell her that Reynolds immediately came to his office after receipt of the email and asked him why the party should be cancelled. Mr Reynolds was told by the email sender - “in the nicest possible way” - that the party was a kind sentiment but it should be cancelled because it broke the rules. Mr Reynolds allegedly said he feared it could be more embarrassing to cancel. The official cannot remember whether he also told the PM the party should be cancelled. “I probably did but I honestly can’t remember,” he told me. Mr Cummings, however, says in his blog he personally told the PM the party was a mistake and he is also confident that Mr Reynolds would have had a conversation with the PM and would have passed on the concerns of colleagues about the planned party. All this is the essential evidence that will help Ms Gray decide whether Mr Reynolds and Boris Johnson knowingly broke the lockdown rules on May 20, and whether the prime minister has also committed the cardinal political sin of misleading parliament.