Son of partygate investigator Sue Gray announces bid to be Labour MP

The son of partygate investigator Sue Gray has announced he is campaigning to be a Labour candidate at the next general election.

Activist Liam Conlon announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he is running to be the party’s candidate in Beckenham and Penge, a new seat created in south-east London.

“Our new constituency needs a Labour MP who will deliver real change for those who need it most,” he tweeted.

“It starts with winning. That won’t be easy, but I’ll bring my national campaigning experience to help make it happen.”

Mr Conlon lists himself on his website as vice chair of the Lewisham West and Penge Constituency Labour Party (CLP), national chair of the Labour Party Irish Society and a disabilities officer at the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

He has shared pictures of himself on social media campaigning during by-elections in Mid Bedfordshire and Selby and Ainsty.

His mother is Ms Gray, the former senior civil servant who led the partygate investigation into coronavirus lockdown-breaking gatherings in Downing Street, a report that played a key role in the downfall of Boris Johnson’s premiership.

She switched this year to become Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff in a move that irked Mr Johnson and some Conservative MPs.

Taking on the partygate probe saw Ms Gray go from an influential but little-known arbiter of conduct in Government to a household name within months.

The anti-sleaze watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, recommended a six-month delay between her leaving the civil service and starting the job with Sir Keir — advice Labour accepted.

Ms Gray started her role with Labour in September and is regularly seen around the parliamentary estate in Westminster, having been tasked with preparing the party — which is consistently well ahead of the Conservatives in the poll — for potentially entering 10 Downing Street after the next election.

She is married to country and western singer husband, Bill Conlon, with the pair running a pub in Newry, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles in the late 1980s.

A Tory MP suggested her son’s bid to contest a seat for Labour “raises questions about whether Sue Gray was ever truly impartial”.

Paul Bristow, MP for Peterborough, told The Sun On Sunday: “(How) could she have been when her own flesh and blood was busy trying to get a seat at the next election?”

But Jill Rutter, an associate fellow at think tank British Future and a former Treasury worker, said it was “silly” for there to be any disgruntlement over his decision to run.

“Liam Conlon has been active in Labour for longer than Sue Gray,” Ms Rutter tweeted, pointing out Mr Conlon’s different leadership roles with party groups.

“He would be a great choice for neighbouring Beckenham and Penge, irrespective of his mother.”

The Tories have selected Bob Stewart, the MP for Beckenham, as the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Beckenham and Penge.

The seat has been created following a review carried out by the Boundary Commission for England to make Westminster seats more uniform in terms of  population size.