Sue Gray’s full report into Downing Street parties: Five key takeaways

Criticising Johnson’s leadership and confirming lockdown-busting parties, the highly anticipated report is likely to prove pivotal in determining the PM’s future.

Sue Gray report

The long-awaited report by civil servant Sue Gray into the partygate scandal has been published by the government.

Here are the key findings of the full report, which is available to read here.

1.Parties breached the rules and attitudes and behaviours in No 10 ‘inconsistent’ with Covid guidance

Sue Gray concluded that the many gatherings that took place in Downing Street during lockdown broke Covid-19 rules.

The report highlights ‘inconsistency’ at No 10, with Gray saying that “whatever the initial intent” of some of the gatherings, what took place at many of them “was not in line with Covid guidance at the time.”

“Even allowing for the extraordinary pressures officials and advisers were under, the factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that guidance,” she said.

2. Leadership failings

Gray has been damning of the leadership within No 10, including that of Boris Johnson and cabinet secretary Simon Case, saying those at the top should have put a stop to the partying.

The official report states that ‘senior leadership’ in Downing Street must ‘bear responsibility’ for the culture in No 10 during the pandemic.

“I have already commented in my update on what I found to be failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office. The events that I investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen.

“It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders. The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture,” said Gray.

3. A drinking culture

The report condemns a drinking culture within No 10, including ‘wine time Fridays’, in which staff held drinks every Friday throughout the pandemic to “let off steam” and would start consuming alcohol from 3pm.

The dossier says, “excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time,” and that every government department should have a “clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol.”

Her report makes reference to a party on June 18, 2020 when “one individual was sick” and a “minor altercation” took place between two other individuals. It cites another gathering on December 15, 2020, when “A No 10 official sent a message on internal No 10 systems referring to drunkenness and advising staff to leave No 10 via the back exit.”

4. Staff treated poorly

The dossier also references a number of cases when members of No 10 staff were treated with a lack of respect. Gray also cites examples of workers who opposed the parties but felt too intimidated to blow the whistle.

“I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. 

“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable,” says Sue Gray.

5. The illegal gatherings should not have taken place

The conclusion of the report confirms that a number of the gatherings “should not have been allowed to take place or develop in the way that they did.”

The civil servant added that there is “significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across government.”

Notably, Gray concludes that: “This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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