Number 10/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA
After months of delay and hypothesis, civil servant Sue Gray has printed her report into Downing Street events. It doesn’t make for comfy studying. Although it may have been a lot, a lot worse for the prime minister, general the report states that senior management should “bear accountability” for the quite a few lockdown breaches that happened in Downing Street through the pandemic.
Gray stops wanting declaring whether or not particular person occasions did or didn’t breach the foundations. Nevertheless, her findings are damning and there may be ample proof on provide for any reader trying to make up their very own thoughts about what occurred. These are the 5 prime takeaways from Gray’s ultimate findings.
1. An simple tradition of events and ingesting
The doc is stuffed with embarrassing and damming tales of unlawful gatherings and unhealthy behaviour. There was “extreme alcohol consumption”, an everyday fixture known as “wine time Fridays” and altercations between workers.
Aides are proven to have left Downing Street after 4am (and never as a result of they’d labored into these early hours). Cleaning workers and junior aides have been abused, and a Number 10 adviser is on report earlier than the notorious “convey your personal booze” celebration within the backyard that it was finest to keep away from “waving bottles of wine and so on” as a result of a press convention was ending up.
Whether or not you imagine the “ambushed by cake” defence the prime minister and his allies have deployed, Gray makes it clear that regardless of the preliminary intent, what happened at many of those gatherings and the way in which during which they developed was not according to COVID steering on the time. Even permitting for the extraordinary pressures officers and advisers have been below, the factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that steering.
2. Staff knew they have been breaking the foundations
After initially denying that any events ever happened, Johnson ultimately needed to backtrack and reassure the general public that any gatherings that did happen adopted the foundations. Tenuous even then, the main points within the Gray report make it clear that this was removed from the reality. Senior individuals inside Number 10 knew the gatherings have been in opposition to the foundations and even joked about it.
Emails and messages uncovered by Gray present the common planning of gatherings and different social occasions. Some officers did register objections and attempt to warn that the occasions have been a nasty thought, however finally they have been overruled. The controversial BYOB backyard celebration noticed round 200 individuals formally invited by way of e-mail.
Martin Reynolds (Johnson’s former principal non-public secretary) later mentioned this occasion in a WhatsApp trade, apparently referring to the media making inquiries a few completely different story and expressing aid that they weren’t “specializing in our drinks (which we appear to have obtained away with)”.
3. Insufficient proof that Johnson knew
The majority of the proof pertains to exchanges between and logs from the actions of senior workers in Number 10. There is not any report of Johnson himself admitting to understanding guidelines have been being damaged. However, he could discover it tougher to now preserve his “I knew nothing” line with some a lot element now revealed concerning the actions of his closest aides.
Number 10/Flicker, CC BY-NC-SA
While Johnson and his supporters could categorical a sigh of aid over this, the report doesn’t put him within the clear. These weren’t discreet, covert gatherings. Page after web page particulars organised, massive and rowdy events in Johnson’s dwelling, a few of which he admits passing by means of, even when solely momentarily. Ultimately, Johnson could not have organised or participated in all of those occasions however he was in cost and did nothing to dissuade his subordinates from holding them.
The report clearly factors to a failure of management from Johnson, even when it doesn’t state this outright. So whereas he maybe hasn’t been caught pink handed, there could also be sufficient damning proof circling round him for his MPs to determine his credibility as a frontrunner is simply too broken to proceed.
4. A handy concentrate on tradition
Many of Gray’s issues and proposals relate to the working tradition and constructions at Number 10. The authorities seems to have benefited from having an preliminary abstract of Gray’s findings some months in the past and brought the initiative to implement workers adjustments and restructuring.
Johnson can now level to those adjustments as proof of classes learnt and amends made. Gray even speaks of being reassured by these adjustments. It’s a useful inclusion for a chief minister in search of to divert consideration away from different elements of the report.
5. What’s the that means of web page 18?
Perhaps some of the attention-grabbing elements of the report is just not what it does say however what it doesn’t say, particularly on web page 18. This part pertains to a gathering held within the Downing Street flat on November 13 2020 – the night time Johnson’s senior advisers Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain left authorities. Extensive rumours have been spreading about this explicit night time for months earlier than the report and the prime minister was repeatedly questioned about it in parliament.
Nevertheless, Gray’s wording is cryptic. She hints that it had all of the makings of an unlawful gathering however has not investigated additional. She states on web page 18:
The data collected on this gathering is proscribed as the method of acquiring proof had solely simply been commenced when the Metropolitan Police introduced their very own investigations, which included occasions on the 13 November 2020. At this level I ended my investigation, given the necessity to keep away from any prejudice to the police investigation. Following the Metropolitan Police announcement on 19 May 2022 I thought-about whether or not or to not conduct any additional investigation into this occasion however concluded it was not applicable or proportionate to take action.
This passage is certain to grow to be the main target of consideration within the weeks forward, not least given the confusion over the logic behind the police investigations into partygate. While junior workers have been fined for attending gatherings whereas Johnson was not, though he was current too.
Somehow he attended these unlawful gatherings legally. Many have been shocked to listen to that no fines have been to be issued for this occasion both and hoped for readability on what occurred from Gray. That has not been forthcoming is, in itself, a matter of nice curiosity. Did she not need to look into it additional? Or was she not allowed to?
Chris Stafford doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.