Sir Keir Starmer: Government is trying to undermine Sue Gray report

He described it as a ‘new low’ for the Government and criticised the Prime Minister.

Isobel Frodsham
Monday 23 May 2022 13:40
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms, south London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms, south London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Government of attempting to undermine Sue Gray and her report ahead of its publication.

During a tour of a Sainsbury’s store in Nine Elms, south London, on Monday, Sir Keir urged for Ms Gray’s full report into partygate to be published as soon as possible.

He undertook the visit of the outlet along with shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds and Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts, where they spoke to members of staff about the cost of living and briefly met shoppers.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer with Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Officer Simon Roberts (right) during a visit to Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

His comments came after it emerged over the weekend that Mr Johnson had met with Ms Gray ahead of her report’s publication.

Simon Clarke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said earlier on Monday Ms Gray had “instigated” the meeting and it was held for Mr Johnson to “receive an update”.

But Downing Street later on admitted it was “No 10 officials” who had requested it earlier this month so that the Prime Minister could discuss the “timings and publication process”.

Questioned about the meeting Mr Johnson had with the civil service investigator, Sir Keir told journalists: “I always had a concern that as we got to the publication of the Sue Gray report, there will be attempts by the Government to undermine her and undermine the report.

“That’s what we’ve seen going on over the weekend in recent days, a new low for the Government.

“What we do know is there was industrial-scale law-breaking in Downing Street, over 120 fines.

“So what we need now is the full report, all of the evidence.

“It’s the least the public is entitled to from this Government.”

He added that Mr Johnson should take responsibility for any law-breaking in No 10 as he is at the top.

Asked if he has any fears over public officials “carrying the can” for the Prime Minister, Sir Keir said: “The culture is set at the top, the can should be carried by the Prime Minister.

Sue Gray’s report is expected to be published in the coming days (GOV.UK/PA)

“He has responsibility.

“I doubt he will, because he doesn’t take responsibility for anything he’s done in his life.

“But the culture in Downing Street is set from the top, as it is with any organisation, and that culture has led to industrial-scale law-breaking.”

Mr Johnson has refused to comment on the details of the meeting, but has said Ms Gray has remained independent.

He told reporters at a school in south-east London “it can’t be long now” before the report is out, adding he could say more then.

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