June 27, 2022

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Sue Gray ‘Partygate’ report: Boris Johnson employees got drunk, quarrelled and mistreated cleaners during Covid lockdowns, says Dame report

Sue Gray 'Partygate' report: Boris Johnson employees got drunk, quarrelled and mistreated cleaners during Covid lockdowns, says Dame report

Johnson faces a battle to save his prime ministership after a report published on Wednesday by senior civil servant Sue Gray criticized the culture of juvenile offenders, revealing new photos of him in two separate meetings.

Gray wrote that “the senior leadership in the ‘centre’ of the Johnson administration ‘must take responsibility’ for a culture that allows parties to do so.”

She added that there was “no excuse for some of the behaviors” she investigated, which included “excessive drinking”. Email exchange logs were also shown, including some where employees openly discussed hiding their parties from the media.

The report investigated 16 events that occurred at the heart of government while the UK was living under severe Covid-19 restrictions.

A photo of Johnson lifting a can of beer at a birthday party held in his honor is included in the file, along with more photos of Johnson at another event.

Speaking in Parliament moments after the report was published, Johnson said he was “humbled” and “learned my lesson”, adding: “I take full responsibility for everything that has happened in my custody.”

But he also repeated earlier allegations that the parties only stepped up after his departure, insisting he was “surprised and disappointed” by several alcohol-fueled events.

He noted that cramped quarters in government buildings and the “extremely long hours” of his employees responding to the Covid-19 crisis could explain why so many parties and social events happen.

“I have briefly attended such gatherings to thank them for their service which I believe is one of the essential duties of the leadership,” Johnson said.

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The report raises serious questions about whether Johnson misled lawmakers by denying the existence of parties in the past.

He was attacked by opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer, who said the investigation “provides irrefutable evidence of how the British people’s sacrifices were treated with utter contempt from within the building”.

“This report will serve as a monument to the arrogance and arrogance of a government that thought it was their rule, and another rule for anyone else,” Starmer said.

“You can’t be a legislator and a law breaker. It’s time to pack his bags.”

Staff are required to bring alcoholic beverages and avoid the media

Gray also found out that Johnson attended a garden party in May 2020 for about half an hour, with approximately “30-40 people” in attendance.

And an invitation to the event told staff about “socially distant drinks” in Downing Street park, open to “anyone in your office”.

“Can you suggest they also bring their own liquor! I’m not sure we’ll get enough,” said the email sent by Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s chief private secretary, according to the report. The next day, Reynolds noted that the media did not report the party, and wrote to a colleague, “It looks like we got away with it.”

In one email, employees were asked to avoid “walking around waving wine bottles” while the media is in the building, and to keep volume low at gatherings when a ministerial Covid-19 press conference is taking place.

Gray found that some employees felt uncomfortable with behavior inside the number 10 but were afraid to raise the issue. On other occasions, the guard staff were poorly treated by those involved in the events.

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“I learned of multiple examples of lack of respect and mistreatment of security and hygiene personnel. This was unacceptable,” she wrote.

Gray hinted that Downing Street officials were unwilling to provide information on the parties, writing: “Also unfortunately, the details of some events were only known to me and my team through reports in the media. This is disappointing.”

Johnson’s tenure in office was derailed by the months-long scandal dubbed “Partygate” by the British media. He initially denied any incidents occurred, but 16 were later investigated by Gray, 12 were investigated by police and officers fined Johnson himself for attending one.

On the eve of the report’s release ITV News He posted photos of Johnson raising a glass with several of his teammates at a departure event in November 2020, when indoor mixing was banned.

Johnson is due to address the House of Commons later on Wednesday. Some lawmakers in his Conservative Party have joined opposition calls for him to resign in recent weeks, and he will now have to persuade colleagues to stand by him despite the string of allegations and the damning investigation by Gray.