Boris Johnson and Sue Gray had private meeting to discuss partygate report

ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt rounds up the latest in the saga

Boris Johnson and Sue Gray had a private meeting about the partygate report, Number 10 has confirmed.

A source claimed to ITV News it was a progress meeting to update on the report into lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street and Whitehall and did not include any details of content.

Such meetings would not have been viewed as unusual, a source said, with the aim to take stock of what stage the report was at.

ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt tells ITV News Presenter Rageh Omaar about the latest question to emerge from the partygate scandal - why did Sue Gray and the prime minister have a private meeting?

A Number 10 spokesperson said: The Prime Minister commissioned the investigation led by Sue Gray and has been clear throughout that it should be completely independent.

"As he reiterated again today, the decision on what and when to publish rests entirely with the investigation team and he will respond in Parliament once it concludes".

Labour has called on the PM to "urgently explain why he held a secret meeting with Sue Gray to discuss her report despite claiming her investigation was completely independent."

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "Public confidence in the process is already depleted, and people deserve to know the truth."

She called for the Sue Gray report to be published "in full and with all accompanying evidence."

It's also emerged around 30 people, including the PM, are being contacted by the Cabinet Office to warn them of the contents of the report.

It is thought that most of the letters were sent out on Thursday. Mr Johnson is set to be among those approached by the Cabinet Office team but No 10 had no update as to whether he had received a letter on Friday evening.

Earlier in the day the prime minister thanked the Met for its partygate investigation and said he was "looking forward" to Sue Gray's report.

Scotland Yard’s four-month probe into lockdown-busting parties at the heart of government was closed on Thursday, with a total of 126 fines handed out to 83 people.

The force confirmed the PM would not be punished further than the £50 fine he received in April for attending his own birthday bash in June 2020, when indoor mixing was banned.

Boris Johnson thanks the Metropolitan Police

A separate report on the gatherings by senior civil servant Ms Gray is expected next week.

On Friday, Mr Johnson said: "I'm very grateful for the Met for their work, I thank them for everything that they've done, I think we just need to wait for Sue Gray's report.

"Fingers crossed that will be very soon and I'll be saying some more next week."

When asked if No 10 would be blocking any names from being released, the PM said: "That will entirely be up to Sue Gray and I'll be looking forward very much to seeing what she has to say."

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ITV News understands that Ms Gray's investigation plans to identify senior civil servants, with the document likely to be published next week.

Sources told ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana the letters Ms Gray has sent out, warning them she plans to identify them in the report, have caused shock and anger, because individuals believed that their identities would be protected.

It is understood Ms Gray will name senior figures in a “factual context” when explaining what occurred during the events.

She will, however, respect the convention of not naming junior civil servants in the final document, which is still being finalised.

The Metropolitan Police declined to identify anyone in its £460,000 investigation.

Ms Gray’s interim report published in January said there were “failures of leadership and judgment” that allowed rule-breaking gatherings to take place in No 10, something the full briefing is expected to expand upon.

Sue Gray's long-awaited report is due to be published this week. Credit: PA

The PM used Thursday’s announcement by the Metropolitan Police about the conclusion of its own probe to push through reforms to his operation amid repeated criticisms of a culture in Downing Street that allowed the Covid law breaches to take place.

The PM’s bid to restore order to Downing Street’s operation saw the government announce changes that will “enhance the support that is offered to the Prime Minister and to the Cabinet”.

It will see the current set-up in No 10 and the Cabinet Office split into two separate groups, according to officials.

The existing No 10 operation, alongside teams in the Cabinet Office supporting Mr Johnson and his top table of ministers, will be placed in a group led by Samantha Jones, the No 10 permanent secretary who was brought in from the NHS in February.

A UK government spokesman said: “As we set out earlier in the year, steps are being taken to further strengthen the operation of both No 10 and the Cabinet Office so they are best placed to deliver for the public now and in the future.

“Work to deliver these plans is ongoing.”

Dominic Raab, who is justice secretary and deputy PM, accepted that things had happened in Downing Street that shouldn't have done, but told ITV News the government was "getting on with the job" of fighting crime and providing relief on the cost of living.

Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns, a close ally of Mr Johnson, said the PM would make a statement to the Commons after Ms Gray has published her report but that he wanted to shift the attention onto priorities such as dealing with the cost of living crisis.

Scotland Yard said it had issued 126 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) to 83 people who attended events in Downing Street and across Whitehall spanning eight separate days.

The probe saw a team of 12 detectives examine 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries, witness statements and 204 questionnaires. They also examined 510 photographs and CCTV images.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Johnson “lost control of what was happening in Downing Street” during the pandemic after an “awful lot of civil servants” had been “caught up” in the Met investigation.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “They blurred the line very distinctly about what was work and what was not work, and they shouldn’t have done it and they have been fined, a large number of them, and that is quite right.”