Sue Gray partygate report: Who’s in the firing line after inquiry findings? | Politics News

The findings of the Sue Gray report has led to questions over who – if anyone – could be in the firing line following the inquiry into the partygate scandal.

The civil servant has insisted senior leaders at Downing Street – both political and official – must “bear responsibility” for the culture of partying during COVID lockdowns.

The long-awaited report, which also details karaoke, wine spillages, aides being sick and others being rude to security staff and cleaners, reveals behaviour in Downing Street during 2020 and 2021 when COVID-19 restrictions were in place across the country.

Sky News looks at who could be in trouble after the release of the report.

Martin Reynolds

Some of the most damning evidence in Ms Gray’s report involves Boris Johnson’s former senior adviser Martin Reynolds, whose name appears 24 times in the 60-page document.

The report reveals Mr Reynolds boasted “we seem to have got away with” the bring-your-own-booze party in May 2020.

And it shows the prime minister’s then-principal private secretary had been warned about inviting some 200 people to drinks in the garden of Number 10.

Politics live: Damning Sue Gray report published

Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister. Martin Reynolds
PIC:UK Government
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Martin Reynolds boasted ‘we seem to have got away with’ the bring-your-own-booze party


At the time, COVID restrictions banned outdoor gatherings with multiple people from other households.

After an email on behalf of Mr Reynolds was sent inviting staff to “bring your own booze” to the event, then-communications director Lee Cain emailed him, saying it represented “somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment”.

A special adviser also sent a WhatsApp message to Mr Reynolds flagging the daily COVID briefing would be finishing around the time of the drinks, saying it would be helpful if people were “not walking around waving bottles of wine”.

Mr Reynolds replied: “Will do my best.”

In a WhatsApp message to the special adviser apparently after the event, Mr Reynolds wrote: “Best of luck – a complete non-story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

Mr Reynolds has now left Number 10 and has been tipped as the next UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds (File Pic)
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Martin Reynolds, pictured with the PM, is tipped to be the next UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Boris Johnson

The Gray report includes a series of photos of Mr Johnson at gatherings including the surprise birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020, for which he received a fine.

He is seen with Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with sandwiches, juices and what appears to be Estrella lager and in one picture Mr Johnson is seen raising a can of the beer aloft.

EDITORS NOTE IMAGE REDACTED AT SOURCE Handout photo dated 19/06/20 issued by the Cabinet Office showing Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) at a gathering in the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street on his birthday, which has been released with the publication of Sue's Gray report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall during the coronavirus lockdown. Issue date: Wednesday May 25, 2022.
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Boris Johnson at a gathering in 10 Downing Street on his birthday in June 2020

There are also images of Mr Johnson raising a glass of wine at a leaving do for his former spin doctor Lee Cain on 13 November 2020.

The report highlights that Mr Johnson stayed for a “short time” at two events including a gathering of 15 to 20 people in the Number 10 press office area in November 2020, where alcohol was drunk.

EDITORS NOTE IMAGE REDACTED AT SOURCE Handout photo dated 13/11/20 issued by the Cabinet Office showing Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a gathering in 10 Downing Street for the departure of a special adviser, which has been released with the publication of Sue's Gray report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall during the coronavirus lockdown. Issue date: Wednesday May 25, 2022.
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The PM at a gathering in 10 Downing Street in November 2020

In response to the report, Mr Johnson said he “briefly attended” the Downing Street lockdown gatherings but didn’t know at the time that they “went on far longer than was necessary”.

It remains to be seen whether the findings of the Gray report will prompt an influx of letters of no confidence from Tory MPs.

Simon Case

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was initially responsible for the investigation into the partygate events, but was forced to recluse himself after admitting an event had taken place outside his own office in December 2020.

The Gray report shows he attended the PM’s birthday gathering in June 2020 “for a short period” after he arrived early for a meeting in the Cabinet room.

While Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak were fined for attending the event, Mr Case escaped being fined in the Metropolitan Police investigation.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case walks to the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville
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Simon Case was initially responsible for the investigation into the partygate events

Mr Case also attended a gathering in 10 Downing Street in June 2020 involving leaving speeches and some alcohol for an official, according to the Gray report.

The cabinet secretary was reportedly being lined up to carry the can when Ms Gray published her findings.

However allies of Mr Johnson took the unusual step this morning of letting it be known that he would not be resigning and would not be sacked.

Read more:
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Sue Gray

The senior civil servant has faced criticism for abandoning her investigation into the “Abba party” held in the prime minster’s flat in November 2020.

She found that Mr Johnson did attend the mid-lockdown gathering, along with five special advisers, but halted her work having only collected “limited” information when the Met Police began their investigation.

Undated handout photo issued by GOV.UK of Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who will take over from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case who has "recused himself" from leading an investigation into lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall, following allegations of gatherings in his own department. Issue date: Issue date: Friday December 17, 2021.
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Sue Gray has published her long-awaited report into the partygate scandal

There was no mention in her report of The Winner Takes It All and other Abba songs reportedly heard blaring from the Downing Street residence after the departure of Dominic Cummings as chief adviser was announced following a bitter power struggle.

The PM’s wife Carrie Johnson was reportedly at the event with “food and alcohol” in the flat during England’s second national lockdown.

Mr Johnson was not fined by the police over that event and he insisted it has been “extensively investigated”.

But Mr Cummings criticised Ms Gray’s decision not to fully investigate the gathering, in a tweet featuring an image from the film comedy The Naked Gun.

Alongside a picture of the actor Leslie Nielsen standing in front of a burning building with the words “move along, nothing to see here”, Mr Cummings wrote in the caption: “So Sue Gray inquiry into ABBA party stopped ‘cos police starting’, cops don’t investigate, SG says ‘disproportionate’ to investigate now, 0 of those who saw/heard party interviewed.”

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