Sue Gray report: Who is expected to shoulder the blame over Partygate?

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Sue Gray is set to publish her long awaited report into Partygate   (via REUTERS)
Sue Gray is set to publish her long awaited report into Partygate (via REUTERS)

The Whitehall mandarin tasked with examining rule-busting parties in No 10 is finally expected to publish her findings in the coming days.

It is not yet clear how many individuals will be named in Sue Gray’s long-awaited report, but all will have been notified by the senior civil servant’s team by 5pm on Sunday and given the opportunity to raise objections.

Ms Gray did not mention names in her interim report in January, but blasted “failures of leadership and judgement by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.

It comes after the Metropolitan Police officially closed its own inquiry into the Partygate scandal last week, with 126 fixed-penalty notices issued to 83 individuals, including Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

Given Mr Johnson has now received a fixed-penalty notice, it is almost certain he will be named in the report.

When the document finally drops, expect many people at Westminster to be searching for references of the prime minister’s name.

Ms Gray will be well aware her report could have a potentially significant impact on Mr Johnson’s premiership.

But it remains to be seen just how severe the criticism of the Prime Minister will be, and whether he will be singled out for being responsible for the culture in Downing Street.

As the only other member of the cabinet who has been publicly identified as receiving a fine from the Metropolitan Police, expect the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s name to feature.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case is said to face ‘stinging’ criticism (PA Wire)
Cabinet secretary Simon Case is said to face ‘stinging’ criticism (PA Wire)

He was issued with a fixed-penalty notice for attending a gathering in the Cabinet Room for the prime minister’s birthday’s on 19 June 2020, when up to 30 people are said to have gathered.

Despite not being fined by the Met police, reports have suggested Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, will come in for “stinging criticism” in the final report.

The most senior civil servant in the country was originally tasked with carrying out the investigation, but was forced to hand responsibilities to Ms Gray after allegations emerged he had attended a gathering in his own office.

Over the weekend, The Observer also raised speculation that Mr Case could be used as a scapegoat by the prime minister in an attempt to save his own role, in a report that will make “gruesome” reading for both men.

Other names featuring in Ms Gray’s report could include Martin Reynolds, who was responsible for sending No 10 staff the leaked “BYOB” email.

Former principal private secretary to Boris Johnson Martin Reynolds (PA)
Former principal private secretary to Boris Johnson Martin Reynolds (PA)

In it he told them to “make the most of the lovely weather” in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 — at the height of England’s first national lockdown.

He left his role as principle private secretary to Mr Johnson in February as the prime minister reshuffled his top team in the wake of public anger over lockdown parties, and is now stationed at the Foreign Office.

Mr Reynolds offered his resignation alongside Downing Street chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, hours after policy aide Munira Mirza and director of communications Jack Doyle both quit.

Former government ethics chief Helen MacNamara (UK Government)
Former government ethics chief Helen MacNamara (UK Government)

Helen MacNamara, the government’s former ethics chief, was fined by the police for attending a gathering in June 2020 related to the departure of a private secretary.

She may also be named in the senior civil servant's report, according to ITV, having previously apologised for her “error of judgement”. Ms MacNamara confirmed she paid her fine in April.

In a short statement last month, she said: “I am sorry for the error of judgement I have shown. I have accepted and paid the fixed penalty notice.”

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