Partygate: Simon Case to face ‘stinging criticism in Sue Gray report’

Reports have suggested the document, which is expected to be published in the coming days, will feature photographs of illegal parties

Amy Gibbons
Monday 23 May 2022 00:15
<p>Boris Johnson has been urged to clarify what his meeting with Sue Gray was about </p>

Boris Johnson has been urged to clarify what his meeting with Sue Gray was about

Top civil servant Simon Case is expected to be hard-hit by the long-awaited Sue Gray Partygate report despite not being fined over the scandal, it has been reported.

Reports have also suggested the document, expected to be published in the coming days, will feature photographs of illegal gatherings.

It comes as Boris Johnson faces calls to explain the purpose of a “secret” meeting with the senior civil servant.

It follows the conclusion of a separate inquiry by the Metropolitan Police into Covid rule-breaking events at the heart of Government, which saw a total of 83 people receive at least one fixed-penalty notice (FPN) each for attending events over eight separate days.

The prime minister received just one fine, for his 56th birthday gathering in June 2020 when indoor mixing was banned, along with his wife Carrie Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The Johnsons were later told by police they faced no further action, according to Downing Street, and Mr Sunak has not received an additional FPN.

The Telegraph cited a source as saying Mr Case will come in for “stinging criticism” in the Gray report.

“As the head of the civil service, the ultimate responsibility was his,” they added.

The Cabinet Office declined to comment on the reports about the permanent secretary.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Laura Farris suggested she may resign as a ministerial aide at the Foreign Office in order to continue in her role on the Commons Privileges Committee, which is set to investigate whether the prime minister intentionally misled Parliament over partygate.

Ms Farris, who is currently both a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) and a member of the committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme the two roles were “incompatible” in the circumstances, and “that has to be resolved this week”.

Simon Case is expected to be hit hard by the Sue Gray report

“One or other will go. If I am to remain on the committee, I will resign as a PPS so that there isn’t that conflict,” she said.

Asked which option she was leaning towards, she said she thought it would be “the right thing to do” to stay on the committee.

The committee’s chairman, Labour MP Chris Bryant, previously recused himself from the parliamentary investigation, having made his views on Mr Johnson’s conduct plain in the media.

One or other will go. If I am to remain on the committee, I will resign as a PPS so that there isn't that conflict

MP Laura Farris

Cabinet ministers failed to shed light on the circumstances of the controversial meeting between Mr Johnson and Ms Gray, details of which first emerged on Friday, as Labour said people “deserve to know the truth”.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted during a round of broadcast interviews on Sunday that he did not know who called the meeting, or what was discussed, while maintaining Ms Gray had “complete control” over what would be published in the document.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also said she did not know who had organised the talks, adding: “I don’t follow anybody’s diaries.”

It is understood Mr Johnson and Ms Gray met at least once for an update on the report’s progress while it was being drafted, but a Whitehall source said its contents were not discussed at any point.

The exact nature of the talks remains unclear.

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

It was initially reported by the BBC that the discussions touched on whether photos would be publicly disclosed, and that Ms Gray initiated the meeting “to clarify her intentions” over what would happen once the police investigation concluded.

However, a spokesman for the Gray inquiry disputed this account of events.

A No 10 source insisted the request for the meeting did not come from Mr Johnson.

Nadhim Zahawi refused to say if No 10 called a controversial “secret meeting” with Sue Gray about her Partygate investigation

It has been reported the idea was in fact suggested by a No 10 official, while the calendar invitation was sent by Ms Gray.

This version of events was corroborated to the PA news agency by a source close to the inquiry, but there were conflicting accounts over the circumstances that led to the talks.

It came as about 30 people, including Mr Johnson, were being contacted by the Cabinet Office to warn them of the contents of the document.

It is thought that most of the letters were sent out on Thursday, as the Met concluded its investigation.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, called on the Prime Minister to “urgently explain” why the “secret meeting” with Ms Gray took place.

Downing Street insisted Mr Johnson had been “clear throughout” that the report should be “completely independent”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in