Thursday, 27 Jan 2022

‘I don’t have dates’ Probe into Downing Street Xmas parties to only publish report in 2022

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Sue Gray, the top civil servant from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is still investigating the different allegations first published in the Mirror. According to Gillian Keegan, the Minister for Care and Mental Health, Government officials aren’t aware of the deadline for Ms Gray to hand over her report and when the conclusions will be made public.

She told LBC on Wednesday: “I don’t know when. Very soon. So, she’s doing it very quickly, I don’t have dates.”

Asked whether the report might appear this week, she said: “I don’t have a date, but I know she’s aware that you’re very keen to see it.”

The report was supposed to be published last week by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who had interviewed several insiders, advisers and elected officials.

However, Mr Case stepped down from the inquiry team after the Guido Fawkes website reported on Friday that two Christmas parties were held in Case’s department, the Cabinet Office, in December 2020, when restrictions were in place.

Ms Gray is now investigating an alleged Christmas party at Downing Street on 18 December 2020 where staff enjoyed drinks, food and received awards.

Another social which allegedly happened in the Department for Education is also on the list.

Sue Gray will also look at a partly remote staff quiz which included a cameo appearance from the Prime Minister.

Lastly, she will tackle the allegations regarding a garden party at No10 last year attended by the Prime Minister, his wife, their newborn baby and other officials.

Pictures released by The Guardian showed them with glasses of wine and plates of cheese when outdoor gatherings were still banned nationwide.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News the fact people in the photo were “all in suits or predominantly formal attire” backs up Downing Street’s insistence it was a “staff meeting”.

“Given the pressures Number 10 were under, they might have a drink after the formal business has ended,” he added.

Boris Johnson has relentlessly denied any parties happened and claims all rules have always been respected at Downing Street.

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Scotland Yard chiefs had said it would be a waste of resources to investigate the claims retrospectively.

The police watchdog later decided it would not investigate a complaint about the Metropolitan Police’s handling of an alleged Downing Street party.

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