Johnson denies he asked Sue Gray not to publish her report

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Boris Johnson has denied claims he asked Sue Gray not to publish her report into lockdown parties in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister was twice challenged in the Commons about a report in The Times that he had suggested to the senior civil servant she should drop plans to make her findings public.

Initially he sidestepped a question by the Tory MP Aaron Bell, who said he was “very surprised” to read the paper’s report, adding: “Is there any truth to that suggestion, Prime Minister?”

Mr Johnson simply responded: “What Sue Gray has published is entirely for Sue Gray. It is a wholly independent report.”

Pressed again however by Labour MP Karin Smyth as to whether he asked Ms Gray not to publish her report, he replied “No”.

He added: “What I can tell the honourable lady is that this is a wholly independent report and the judgments contained in it are a matter for Sue Gray.”

According to the paper, Mr Johnson made the suggestion at a “secret meeting” with Ms Gray earlier this month.

It quoted a Whitehall source as saying: “He asked her is there much point in doing it now that it’s all out there.”

In response, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters on Tuesday: “The Prime Minister did not ask her to drop the report or not proceed with the report.

“It was the Prime Minister who commissioned the report. He wants the report to be published.”

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