Saturday, May 28

PM faces calls to ensure all evidence is released in 10-party investigation | boris johnson


Boris Johnson is facing calls to ensure that all evidence about the Downing Street parties is published with the Sue Gray investigation, as it has emerged that the seminal report is likely to amount to a concise summary of the findings.

Labor and the Liberal Democrats called on Friday for the report to be released along with accompanying evidence, including emails and witness accounts, to provide full transparency around the more than 15 suspected parties under investigation by Gray, a senior official. .

The publication is expected to have huge political ramifications, as many Conservative MPs have said they will wait for his findings before deciding whether to back Johnson to remain prime minister. If they are not satisfied, it could face a no-confidence vote.

Government sources said the report is likely to be ready sometime in the middle to late next week, and that Gray will deliver it to No. 10. It is understood that Johnson will see the report in advance, but then he is expected to be available. to the public and parliament within hours.

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The terms of reference for the investigation make it clear that the “findings” will be made public. However, The Guardian understands that this does not include accompanying evidence, such as emails, text messages or interview transcripts, nor precise details about what happened at any of the alleged meetings.

Government sources indicated the results of the investigations on priti patel, the Minister of the Interior, and Damian Green, the former deputy prime minister, as examples of how such findings are often expounded. Both took up less than two pages.

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The archive of the investigation, including the evidence on which the findings are based, is unlikely to be released, the sources said.

This may mean that an email purportedly sent by a senior official warning Johnson’s chief private secretary, Martin Reynolds, not to have drinks in Garden No 10 on May 20, 2020, will never be made public.

The email is crucial, as Johnson insists he wasn’t warned that the bring-your-own-drink event might be against the rules, and that he didn’t know it was a party when he spent about 25 minutes there talking to Mr. staff, believed to have been number 30 to 40

Instead, the findings will be statements of fact about what happened, leaving the matter of any disciplinary action to the civil service and the prime minister. Johnson could decide to refer himself and any other ministers to the independent adviser on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt. Redactions of the results of junior staff names and the possibility of any disciplinary action against them are also possible.

Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labor Party, has called for a greater degree of transparency around the parties, which has sparked outrage across the country, from members of the public to Conservative MPs.

“Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to hide or obscure any of the truth when he has insisted on a lengthy internal investigation to tell him what parties he attended and what happened in his own home. Sue Gray’s report should be released in its entirety with all accompanying evidence,” he said.

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Rayner said that transparency in government has eroded under the prime minister. “The Conservatives have shown us how little respect they have for the rules, we have seen private WhatsApps, lost phones, a freedom of information clearinghouse, lost minutes of lobby meetings – their culture of cover-up has lost the trust of the public. British. public.”

Ed Davey, the leader of the Lib Dem, also joined calls for more transparency around the report. He said: “Confidence is at an all time low, so this report needs to be open to scrutiny from all those who have lost loved ones and all those who played by the rules. Staff and employment issues aside, Boris Johnson owes it to parliament, and above all to the people, to publish this report and the transcripts in full. Anything else will be seen as the usual lies and rule bending.”

Despite the decision not to release accompanying evidence, several current and former officials who know Gray said they believed the report would remain an accurate and potentially damning account from parties who would not shy away from difficult conclusions.

They pointed to the investigation of Green, which she led as head of the ethics and decorum team, and resulted in her resignation in 2017. Other former public officials, however, noted her ability to navigate through complicated political issues, which has led to the nickname “Sue Gray Area”.

Gray’s investigation has consistently been described as “independent” despite the fact that she is a senior official who reports to the prime minister.

Asked if the investigation was independent, Johnson’s deputy government spokesman said Friday: “Yes, it is. It is up to that investigation, that team, to establish the facts, we have said it before… it is an independent investigation team, I think we have raised it from the beginning.”

Asked why the investigation was made independent, the spokesperson said, “Well, as we have argued, it is being carried out independently by an official who has been asked to establish the facts.”

New details emerged on Friday night about the two parties allegedly held at Number 10 on April 16 last year by the departure of James Slack, then Johnson’s director of communications and a Downing Street photographer. Slack has since apologized “unreservedly.”

Roughly 30 people attended both meetings, with the photographer taking place in the basement of number 10 while Slack colleagues gathered in the press area. Both groups later met in the garden, the Daily Telegraph reported. The newspaper was also shown a photograph of revelers in the basement, though it is unknown if Gray has seen this or any related text.

The basement party reportedly lasted at least seven hours until 1 a.m., according to text messages seen by the Telegraph. Wine was spilled on a government printer while music played from a laptop. It is alleged that a takeout pizza was ordered at No. 10, and portions were doled out in the garden, while other partygoers took turns on a slide purchased for the Johnsons’ young son, Wilfred.


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