Sue Gray’s report into allegations of several parties held at Downing Street while the country was in lockdown has been released.
Since the Metropolitan Police requested only minimal reference to events that are subject to a criminal investigation – a move that has faced criticism – the report is a watered-down version.
Downing Street has not committed to publishing the full report, even after the police investigation has concluded.
Based on what we have so far, here are the key points:
Gatherings include PM’s birthday and event in official flat
The dozen events being looked at by officers include a “gathering in the No 10 Downing Street flat” on November 13 2020, the night Mr Johnson’s former aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain left their roles during a bitter power struggle.
Police were also investigating the June 19 2020 event in the Cabinet Room at No 10 to mark the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday.
Two other Downing Street gatherings that officers are inspecting took place on April 16 last year, on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, when the Queen was pictured mourning alone.
A ‘failure of leadership’ at Downing Street
One of the most striking lines from the report criticises the judgements made at Downing Street.
Ms Gray writes: “At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public.
“There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times.”
She called for "significant learning" to be drawn from the scandal, adding these "must be addressed immediately across government" and doesn't need to wait for the police inquiry.
Events ‘should not have been allowed’
While the report is limited in detail about specific gatherings (both confirmed and alleged to have taken place) Ms Gray is clear that some events should never have been allowed.
“Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place,” she wrote.
“Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did.”
12 events under police investigation
Only four events that fell in the scope of the report are not being investigated by the police.
These are gatherings relating to 15 May 2020, 27 November 2020, 10 December 2020, 15 December 2020.
This leaves the following eight dates of allegations, sometimes with multiple events held on each night, under police investigation:
- 20 May 2020 - Number 10 garden party
- 18 June 2020 - Cabinet Office leaving party
- 19 June 2020 - The prime minister's birthday
- 13 November 2020 - A gathering in the No 10 Downing Street flat, and another in No 10 on the departure of a special adviser
- 17 December 2020 - Two cabinet office gatherings and one leaving party
- 18 December 2020 - Downing Street Christmas party
- 14 January 2021 - Leaving party for two private secretaries
- 16 April 2021 - Two leaving parties
Too much alcohol isn’t appropriate at any time
There have been reports of significant alcohol consumption at Downing Street during the pandemic.
These have included allegations of suitcases being filled with wine and a fridge specifically in which to store them.
On drinking, Ms Gray wrote: “The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time.
“Steps must be taken to ensure that every government department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace.”
Staff had concerns – but felt they couldn’t raise them
“Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so,” Ms Gray said.
“No member of staff should feel unable to report or challenge poor conduct where they witness it.
“There should be easier ways for staff to raise such concerns informally, outside of the line management chain.”
Behaviour ‘difficult to justify’
As Ms Gray notes, the British people were making significant sacrifices during lockdown.
“Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify,” she said.
Should the Downing Street garden be used as an office?
During the pandemic, staff were allowed to use the garden as an extension of the workplace to make use of a ventilated space.
This was appreciated by staff, Ms Gray said.
“But the garden was also used for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight. This was not appropriate,” she added.
“Any official access to the space, including for meetings, should be by invitation only and in a controlled environment.”
Watch the video obtained by ITV News in December last year of of Boris Johnson's former press secretary Allegra Stratton laughing about an alleged party in No 10 in Christmas in 2020
It is not a 'meaningful report'
Ms Gray says herself that this isn't a "meaningful report" because she has made "minimal reference" to the gatherings the police are investigating.
She says she hasn't set out "the extensive factual information" she has as she did not want to prejudice the probe.