Now senior civil servants threaten to BLOCK the full publication of Sue Gray’s Partygate probe after being told those fined can expect to be named in the dossier that will include pictures
- Two Whitehall officials said they’re mulling legal action to prevent being named
- The move could see the report watered down or even delay its release by weeks
- That would drag Boris Johnson’s Partygate misery into the summer
- Mr Johnson said he was ‘very grateful’ for the Met Police probe, which fined 126
Senior civil servants are threatening to block the publication of an official report into Partygate after being told they will be named.
A Whitehall source said that two senior officials have indicated they are considering legal action to prevent themselves being identified in the report by Government ethics chief Sue Gray.
The move could see the report watered down or even delay its publication by weeks, dragging out Boris Johnson’s Partygate misery into the summer.
Boris Johnson pictured holding a cake on June 19, 2020 during a primary school visit
It will also heighten concerns in government that senior civil servants have received special treatment while more junior officials have been ‘thrown under a bus’. A source said one junior official had received five fines over events they had been told to attend by bosses. ‘You are talking about a young, twenty-something official who is facing hundreds of pounds in fines, while the people who organised the events have got away with it,’ the source said. ‘On a moral level it is pretty difficult to stomach.’
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is among the senior officials who escaped punishment despite being present at at least one event where others were fined.
The Prime Minister, who faces criticism in Miss Gray’s report, yesterday insisted he would not try to water it down by removing names. He said he was ‘very grateful’ for Scotland Yard’s investigation, which concluded with 126 fines for lockdown breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall.
The prime minister is pictured with bottles of honey during a trip to Wales on Friday May 20
During a visit to Hilltop Honey’s factory in Newtown in Powys, Mid Wales, Mr Johnson declined to apologise again for the rule-breaking. Asked if No 10 would be blocking any names from appearing, he said: ‘That will be entirely up to Sue Gray and I’ll be looking forward very much to seeing what she has to say, and fingers crossed that will be pretty soon next week.’
Miss Gray is expected to name about 30 senior individuals, some of whom will face criticism.
They have been warned in writing that they face being named, and invited to comment before publication. Miss Gray’s report is also set to provide more details about a string of controversial gatherings in Whitehall during lockdown. One insider predicted the report would make grim reading for the Government by setting out details of a string of events where rules were broken.
The Daily Mail revealed yesterday that the report will detail how one Cabinet Office leaving do ended up in a boozy fight.
Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were each fined £50 for their attendance at a so-called ‘birthday party’ in the Cabinet Room. But he escaped censure over other events at which he was present.
I didn’t go to Beergate event, says crime chief
By Chris Brooke for the Daily Mail
A Labour crime chief yesterday said she did not attend Sir Keir Starmer’s Beergate event and backed her force to carry out a proper investigation.
Joy Allen, the County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner, was responding to a letter from local Tory MP Richard Holden demanding to know if she or her deputy was present and calling for an independent force to take over the sensitive inquiry if that was the case.
Durham Constabulary are investigating claims that the Labour leader and party colleagues were socialising rather than working when he enjoyed a beer and takeaway curry at a time when indoor socialising was banned under Covid rules.
Mrs Allen said: ‘Neither myself, my deputy or any member of my office attended Durham Miners Hall on April 30, 2021.
‘As an operational policing matter, I continue to have no involvement in the inquiry. I am confident Durham Constabulary will resolve this issue appropriately and with integrity.’
Sir Keir insists no laws were broken during the event but has pledged to resign if he is fined for breaking the rules.
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