Sue Gray’s report into No10 parties could still be published this week after day of confusion

Sue Gray is handling the inquiry into the growing numbers of reports (PA/Gov)
Sue Gray is handling the inquiry into the growing numbers of parties. (PA/Gov) (PA)

The timing of the publication of the full report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into alleged lockdown parties held in Downing Street has been thrown into confusion by a police investigation.

On Tuesday morning, Scotland Yard said it had launched an inquiry into potential breaches of coronavirus laws at a “number of events” in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said officers were now looking at potential offences over two years.

Amid conflicting media reports as to whether the timing of the Gray report would be affected, at around 4.30pm a spokesperson for the prime minister said discussions between the Gray inquiry and the Met would assess what could be published from her report.

That leaves open the possibility of potentially damning findings into No 10 staffers, senior civil servants and Boris Johnson himself being made public as soon as Wednesday.

Why is there such confusion?

Initially, the prime minister's spokesman confirmed that the Gray inquiry would be affected.

It was believed police had looked into "a number of events and allegations" that didn't reach the threshold for further investigation, which the Gray inquiry would be able to publish details about in the coming days or weeks.

Watch: Met Police commissioner confirms force is investigating reports of parties

However, it was thought she would not be able to report on any allegations still being looked at by police, which means details of the full report would be delayed.

Follow-up reports contradicted this, with multiple sources saying that Scotland Yard had not objected to the report being published, meaning it could land within the coming days - or even hours.

The prime minister’s spokesman said he was aware of “speculation” that the Met had not objected to the report being published.

But he said decisions on its publication were a matter for the Cabinet Office and police and “we are not, as in No 10, seeking to block that in any way”.

What is Gray's report about?

Gray was tasked with investigating alleged breaches of COVID legislation following multiple reports of gatherings happening within Downing Street while socialising was banned.

The prime minister - and his allies - have repeatedly refused to comment on the nature of any alleged parties, saying it would need to wait until the full report is published.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement in the House of Commons, Westminster, after it was announced that Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into a
The prime minister - and his allies - have repeatedly refused to comment on the nature of any alleged parties, saying it would need to wait until the full report is published (PA) (PA)

The decision to delay publication of the report could have acted as a temporary reprieve for the prime minister.

It is believed a significant number of rebellious Tory MPs have been awaiting the outcome of the report before deciding whether or not to try and oust their embattled leader.

Just 54 MPs need to write a letter of no-confidence in the PM to force a leadership challenge.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson told MPs that he "welcomed the Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation" because it would "help to draw a line under matters”.

According to the Mirror, the report could be published as early as Tuesday night. Other media outlets have reported that a more likely timeframe is some point this week.

It is not yet known whether Johnson will decide to publish all of the report, including any evidence gathered, or a summary of the findings.

The latest development follows revelations that No 10 staff “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room on the afternoon of June 19 2020, with reports suggesting they shared cake and sang “happy birthday” to the prime minister, despite social mixing indoors being banned.

Downing Street denied claims that family and friends were later gathered upstairs in Johnson’s flat to further celebrate the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday, insisting a “small number” of people were hosted outside, in line with the regulations.

During an urgent question granted in the wake of the police investigation being confirmed, Angela Rayner said that "potential criminality” in Downing Street is a “truly damning reflection of our nation’s very highest office”.

Rayner said: “It seems potential criminality has been found in Downing Street. What a truly damning refection on our nation’s very highest office".