Transparency fears as minister says Sue Gray ‘findings’ will be published
Only the “findings” of Sue Gray’s report into alleged lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street will be published, Nadhim Zahawi has said, in another apparent step by the government away from promising full transparency with what she uncovers.
The education secretary’s comments come after Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, said on Sunday that it would be up to Boris Johnson to decide how much information was released.
The keenly awaited report by Gray, a senior civil servant tasked with looking into claims about a series of parties in No 10 and around government during Covid restrictions, is expected to be completed later this week.
Related: Sue Gray: what is she investigating and what powers does her inquiry have?
Asked if it would be published in full, Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “So the terms of reference for Sue Gray’s report is that the findings of her report will be made public, and the prime minister has pledged he will come to parliament to then make a statement and be scrutinised by colleagues on the findings of that report.”
Asked if that meant it would not be fully released, Zahawi said: “The findings of Sue Gray’s report will be made public – that is the terms of reference. I think that will ensure public confidence. She can follow the evidence wherever it takes her, and she’s doing exactly that.”
Asked the same question on Sunday, Raab told the BBC: “Quite the way, the process for it, will be for the prime minister to decide. But … there will be full transparency. He has said he will come back to the Commons and make a statement, so there will be full scrutiny.”
When Johnson initially announced an internal investigation into the claims, led by cabinet secretary Simon Case, he told MPs that a copy of Case’s full report would be put in the library of the House of Commons, guaranteeing full access.
However, the formal terms of reference say only: “The findings of the investigations will be made public.” Gray took over the process from Case after claims his office also held a social gathering.
While it would be expected that personal details of some staff would be removed from any published report, releasing just the findings is likely to exclude evidence such as emails, text messages or transcripts of interviews, or precise details about what happened at any of the alleged gatherings.
Government sources have pointed to the outcomes of the investigations into Priti Patel, the home secretary, and Damian Green, the former deputy prime minister, as examples of how such findings tend to be set out. Both ran to less than two pages.