A Downing Street chief boasted they had “got away with” partygate rulebreaking, Sue Gray’s report has revealed, as she blamed senior leaders for failing to follow Covid rules.
A months-long inquiry by the civil servant concluded that “whatever the initial intent, what took place at many of these gatherings and the way in which they developed was not in line with Covid guidance at the time”.
Ms Gray, the former head of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office, investigated 16 events in Whitehall during the pandemic, including a karaoke party where one staff member was sick and two others had a fight.
Her report places the blame at the feet of senior leaders in Downing Street, including politicians and civil servants.
“Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen,” she said.
“It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders.
“The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.”
‘We got away with it’
One message revealed in her report shows that Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, boasted that staff “got away with” breaking the rules.
In a fragment of a message to a special adviser, he said: “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”
He was referring to the “BYOB” garden party on May 20, 2020, which took place during the first lockdown.
The report runs to 60 pages and contains nine photos of gatherings in Downing Street during the pandemic, including images of Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak at the Prime Minister’s birthday party in June 2020.
The photograph of Mr Johnson shows him and Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, around the Cabinet table. Mr Johnson is holding aloft a can of beer.