What were the key points in Sue Gray’s original ‘update’ on Downing Street parties?

A summary of the civil servant’s findings published on 31 January

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 25 May 2022 10:54 BST
Sue Gray hands Boris Johnson a version of her partygate inquiry

Sue Gray released a 12-page “update” on her investigation into Downing Street‘s rule-breaking parties during the Covid-19 lockdown on Monday 31 January but was prevented from releasing a fuller version by the Metropolitan Police announcing is own probe into the affair.

That has now ended, with the Met issuing 126 fixed-penalty notices to 83 individuals, including prime minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Ms Gray is now free to submit her final report for publication, which is due to take place in the coming days.

Ahead of its release, Mr Johnson finds himself under pressure to explain a “secret” meeting he held with Ms Gray, seemingly to discuss the dossier’s progress, while initial reports suggest it could include previously unseen photographs and contain “stinging criticism” of Cabinet secretary Simon Case, despite his not being fined by the Met.

Here are the key points already revealed in her January update about the investigation and what she concluded at the time.

• Firstly, the initial report is very short, just eight and a half pages long or 12 if you include a number of blank pages and the title page. This includes annexes simply re-stating the regulations at the time and the terms of reference of the inquiry. This short length may reflect the Met’s demand that key details be left out of the document.

• The conclusion of the report simply says that “a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did”. Ms Gray adds that “there is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across government”. Notably, she concludes that: “This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded”.

• Ms Gray says that it is “not for me to make a judgement on whether the criminal law has been broken” and that is properly a matter for the police.

• She says the police have indicated to her that they are investigating parties 12 of the 16 reported parties, with the exception of those noted on 15 May 2020, 27 November 2020, 10 December 2020 and 15 December 2020. These four events were not thought to reach the threshold for criminal investigation.

• The report also makes clear that Ms Gray considered that due to the police request that she not prejudice their investigation, she sees herself as “extremely limited in what I can say about those events and it is not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather”. She also decided not to publish factual accounts of the events.

• Ms Gray says that there was “too little thought given to what was happening across the country” by staff and that there “were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.

• She also believes that the “excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time”.

• The civil servant also believes that the number of staff working at Downing Street has increased too quickly and that “the structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion”. She says leadership in the department has become too fragmented – but does not criticise any individuals.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


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