The long-awaited Sue Gray report has today detailed a ‘failure of leadership’ as the analysis of Downing Street parties is published in full.
The senior civil servant, who was tasked with investigating a number of alleged lockdown breaches in Number 10, specifically attacked ‘senior leaders’ in government in her thirty-seven page report.
The report, which also published a series of newly unearthed photos of the Prime Minister attending alleged parties, stated that many of the events investigated into ‘should not have been allowed to happen’.
Sue Gray wrote: “The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.”
In the conclusion of her analysis, she also criticised the ‘attitudes and behaviours’ displayed by the leaders during the Covid pandemic.
Gray’s conclusion reads: “Even allowing for the extraordinary pressures officials and advisers were under, factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that guidance.”
Another significant finding was that an ‘excessive’ amount of alcohol was consumed at a number of events, including one held on June 18th – reportedly a gathering in the Cabinet Office to mark the departure of a Number 10 private secretary.
The government’s former ethics chief, Helen MacNamara, previously apologised for an ‘error of judgement’ after being fined by the Met Police for this event.
The report states: “The event lasted for a number of hours. There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals.
“One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals.”
Gray also stated that the treatment of security and cleaning staff during this time period was ‘unacceptable’, writing: “I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable.”
The report also published a series of text messages sent and received by Number 10 staff regarding the alleged lockdown events.
And perhaps most strikingly, Martin Reynolds, a top aide to the PM, was seen texting another member of staff via Whatsapp to discuss getting bottles of alcohol to the party without being seen by the press.
A text message sent to Reynolds from a Number 10 official read: “Drinks this eve is a lovely idea… Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc”.
At a later date, Martin Reynolds also sent the following message to a Number 10 special adviser about a news story which is not specified. The report says the message refers to the May 20th event.
His message read: “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”
With regards to any disciplinary action, Gray says this is ‘outside of the scope of this report and is for others to consider’, but she does ‘offer a reflection’.
She says: “While there is no excuse for some of the behaviour set out here it is important to acknowledge that those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organised.
“I have no doubt that they will have taken the learning from this experience and, while this is not a matter for me, I hope this will be taken into account in considering any disciplinary action.”
You can read Sue Gray’s report in full here.