SENIOR civil servant Sue Gray’s anticipated report into illegal lockdown gatherings held in and around Downing Street by members of the government has been published in full.
It included numerous criminal actions by government officials who considered that the law did not apply to them. Gray investigated 16 illegal events at which the police found multiple breaches of Covid-19 legislation during the pandemic.
The report includes photos of illegal gatherings and the names of some who attended.
The 16 illegal events took place over a dozen dates between May 2020 and April 2021, when Covid legal restrictions were in force.
They were held in 10 Downing Street or the Cabinet Office.
Of these events, 12 were investigated by the Metropolitan Police, who issued 126 fines to 83 people, including the prime minister
Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined for attending an illegal birthday party for the PM in the Cabinet Room on 19 June 2020.
Other events investigated by Gray included the infamous bring-your-own-booze party in the Downing Street garden, attended by the PM on 20 May 2020
She also looked into a leaving do for Johnson’s former communications chief Lee Cain and a gathering in the No 10 flat, both on 13 November 2020.
The last gatherings on the list were two parties held by Downing Street staff at No 10, the night before Prince Philip’s funeral on 16 April 2021.
On 20 May there was a gathering in the Downing Street garden.
The event was planned in advance by officials, and concerns were expressed about whether it was appropriate.
The report includes an email invitation sent to staff by the PM’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, which reads: ‘Please join us from 6.00pm and bring your own booze.’
Johnson attended at about 6.00pm for about 30 minutes to thank staff before returning to his office for a meeting.
At the time gatherings of more than two people in public were banned unless they were ‘essential for work purposes’.
On 19 June 2020 there was a gathering in the Cabinet Room for the PM’s birthday.
A number of people gathered in the Cabinet Room for a pre-planned event with food, alcohol and soft drinks.
Cleo Watson, a No 10 special adviser, informed the investigation that she had been asked to organise the event.
13 November 2020: A gathering in Downing Street to mark the departure of a special adviser.
The prime minister attended on his way to his Downing Street flat, gave a speech and had a drink.
Indoor gatherings of two or more people were banned unless they were ‘reasonably necessary’ for work purposes.
16 April 2021: Two gatherings in Downing Street to mark the departures of No 10 officials.
Two separate leaving events took place in No 10, one for director of communications James Slack and one for another official.
Alcohol was consumed and speeches were made at both events, and the two groups eventually came together in the Downing Street garden.
Some people ‘gathered near a child’s swing/slide in the garden, damaging it by leaning on and playing with it’.
Staff members stayed until the early hours, with the last leaving at 04.20 in the morning the next day.
Gatherings of two or more people indoors or more than six outdoors were prohibited
In total, nine photographs from inside Downing Street appear in the report. They show:
Johnson, Sunak and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case gathered in the Cabinet Room for a birthday party thrown in the PM’s honour in June 2020.
The report highlights the ‘personal sacrifices’ everyone made, including those who were not able to see ‘loved ones in their last moments or care for vulnerable family and friends’.
It was clear there were many breaches of the Covid regulations and guidance, given the Met Police fined 83 people.
Gray says ‘the senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture’.
At his press conference at 3.30pm Johnson’s message was: ‘We all made mistakes. We have to learn from them. There is a huge spike in the cost of living, and we must deliver Manifesto commitments.’