Sue Gray on Monday released her long-awaited report into Downing Street‘s rule breaking parties during the Covid lockdown. Here are the key points of the investigation and what she concluded.
• Firstly, report is very short, just eight and a half pages long or 12 if you include a number of blank pages and the title page. This includes annexes simply re-stating the regulations at the time and the terms of reference of the inquiry. This short length may reflect the Metropolitan Police’s demand that key details be left out of the document.
• The conclusion of the report simply says that “a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did”. Gray adds that “there is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across Government”. Notably, she concludes that “This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded”.
• Sue Gray says that it is “not for me to make a judgement on whether the criminal law has been broken” and that is properly a matter for the police.
• She says the police have indicated to her that they are investigating parties 12 of the 16 reported parties, with the exception of those noted on 15 May 2020, 27 November 2020, 10 December 2020, and 15 December 2020. These four events were not thought to reach the threshold for criminal investigation.
• The report also makes clear that Sue Gray considered that due to the police request that she not prejudice their investigation, she sees herself as “extremely limited in what I can say about those events and it is not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather”. She also decided not to publish factual accounts of the events.
• Gray says that there was “too little thought given to what was happening across the country” by staff and that there “were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.
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• She also believes that the “excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time”.
• The civil servant also believes that the number of staff working at Downing Street has increased too quickly and that “the structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion”. She says leadership in the department has become too fragmented – but does not criticise any individuals.