Sue Gray: What the Met police ‘Partygate’ investigation means for her report

Sue Gray is completing her “Partygate” inquiry  (PA Media)
Sue Gray is completing her “Partygate” inquiry (PA Media)

The publication of Sue Gray’s full report into the allegations of boozy gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown will be delayed after Scotland Yard requested it contain “minimal references” to the parties its detectives are probing.

The senior civil servant was expected to give her findings to the Prime Minister this week, shortly before they were published.

However the announcement of a formal police investigation into ‘Partygate’ held up publication of her report.

Here’s what we know so far...

How long has Sue Gray been investigating?

Ms Gray began investigating reports of several parties which were held against the Covid rules in December 8 last year.

The prime minister appointed Ms Gray, the second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, after cabinet secretary Simon Case recused himself from the investigation when it emerged a gathering had taken place in his office.

What does the police investigation mean?

A police investigation could take weeks or even months.

Detectives are believed to be probing about six lockdown parties of more than a dozen identified by Ms Gray’s team.

Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said her force is looking at “the most serious and flagrant type of breach” where individuals knew they were committing an offence or “ought to have known”.

Dame Cressida added “several events” that appeared to have taken place in Downing Street and Whitehall were not thought to have reached the threshold for criminal investigation.

In the statement Scotland Yard said: “For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report.

“But we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.”

The prime minister’s official spokesman said Ms Gray will pause investigating or publishing any party allegations that the police are inspecting.

She is free to publish other matters in her inquiry, but it is likely the Cabinet Office will now wait until the Met’s inquiry is completed.

“As the terms of reference make clear, [the cabinet office] won’t publish anything that relates to the work of the police, there are a number of events and allegations that they have looked into that the police said don’t reach their threshold, which they are able to continue looking into,” the spokesman said.

“And it is my understanding that they will be able to publish detail about those events rather than ones which the police might be taking forward.”

He added: “It’s up to the investigation team when they publish, it’s my understanding they are able to publish the aspects that aren’t a matter for the police.”

Discussing the events the police are investigating, the spokesman said: “I think under the terms of reference that work (for the Gray inquiry) pauses, I don’t know what that means once the Met Police’s investigation concludes, whether they return to them and continue.”

What has the Prime Minister said?

The Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons after Met Commissioner Cressida Dick announced detectives would probe widely reported allegations of boozy gatherings behind held in No10 when Covid restrictions were in place.

He told MPs: “A few weeks ago I commissioned an independent inquiry into a series of events in Downing Street, in the Cabinet Office as well as some other Whitehall departments that may have constituted potential breaches of the Covid regulations.

“That process has quite properly involved sharing information continuously with the Metropolitan Police, so I welcome the Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters.”