Sue Gray, the second permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, leads the investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party at 10 Downing Street in violation of anti-epidemic regulations. The report was made public on Jan. 31. It is considered to have a decisive impact on Johnson’s retention or departure.
The report mentions 12 gatherings in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office. The report condemns the leadership of the Prime Minister’s Office for what it describes as serious breaches of epidemic regulations at a number of Prime Minister’s Office gatherings during the ongoing “city closure” of the United Kingdom due to the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) outbreak.
The article states that the Prime Minister’s Office has “seriously failed to meet high standards” and “failed in leadership.
The article states that the gardens of the Prime Minister’s Office were “used for gatherings without explicit authorization or supervision” and that “this was inappropriate. The article also states that the Prime Minister’s Office should learn significant lessons from these incidents and respond immediately.
Johnson’s response to Parliament
The Cabinet Office issued a statement on January 31 that it had received the investigation report. Johnson was due in Parliament later the same day to respond to the report.
He began his speech in the House of Commons with an apology for not doing the right thing. He said it was useless to say that this or that was not in line with the regulations. He said he understood people’s anger.
He said it’s not enough to just say sorry, “We have to learn (the lesson) from it.
He said he should not draw conclusions on the matter now because the police are conducting an investigation. He said that he is now starting to reorganize the Prime Minister’s Office. He said he would create a prime minister’s office with a permanent secretary. He will announce measures to strengthen the work in that area. I get it, I’ll make it right,” he said.
So far, Johnson has insisted that he will not resign from office over the matter. When he was asked earlier on the 31st whether he thought he had acted in violation of the law, he responded: “You need to wait and see the results of the investigation (released) …… but of course I stand by what I said in the past. Johnson has publicly apologized for the blunder, but he said he attended one of the gatherings in the Prime Minister’s garden and treated it as a work event.
The full report is being withheld from the public
The Metropolitan Police said it has launched a formal criminal investigation into the incident and that it will request the report for reference.
As part of the police investigation, the British government has published Gray’s report on a government website, but it is not the full version that Johnson received. The “full” report will be released when the police investigation is complete.
Gray was due to prepare her report before Christmas 2021, and the British tabloid Express reported on the 31st that her report was reportedly completed on the 25th. But the Metropolitan Police last week asked the report not to disclose too many details because the police are conducting their own investigation. So she had to make further changes to the report to meet the police’s requirements.
Repeated partying violations
ITV said on Jan. 24 that Johnson attended a birthday party hosted by his wife, Carrie Symonds, in the Cabinet Room of the Prime Minister’s Office on the afternoon of June 19, 2020. She and the Prime Minister’s Office sang Johnson’s birthday song, and the party lasted 20 to 30 minutes and was attended by about 30 people.
The UK was first “closed” in June 2020 due to the severity of the Newcastle pneumonia epidemic, and a gathering restriction was imposed. The report said that on the night of the 19th, Johnson even hosted a number of relatives and friends at the Prime Minister’s residence, further violating the gathering restriction.
In mid-January 2021, it was revealed that Johnson had violated the epidemic restriction by hosting two staff farewell parties at the Prime Minister’s residence on April 16, 2021, the day before Prince Philip’s funeral. The Prime Minister’s Office apologized to the British royal family on Jan. 14. The Prime Minister’s Office said he was not at the Prime Minister’s Office on that day and was not aware of the party being held there that day.