Full Sue Gray report could be published TOMORROW despite police probe in chaotic U-turn

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A day of chaos erupted after the Met Police announced it was investigating Downing Street parties. First Sue Gray’s report date was to be delayed, then it could be split in two – and now it’s thought the whole thing could be published in days after all

Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray has been mounting an inquiry
Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray has been mounting an inquiry

A full report into parties across Downing Street and Whitehall could be published as soon as TOMORROW despite a police investigation as officials mull a dramatic U-turn.

Chaos erupted this morning when the Metropolitan Police announced it will finally investigate claims of multiple lockdown-flouting bashes.

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick confirmed her officers will investigate “a number of events” where Covid lockdown rules were allegedly broken.

That raised the extraordinary prospect of Boris Johnson being interviewed by police officers over his role in the multiple breaches.

But it meant top civil servant Sue Gray might have had to “pause” key parts of her hotly-awaited report into the parties.

That would have held Boris Johnson’s fate with Tory MPs in limbo while he waited weeks or months for the final parts of Sue Gray’s report.

Boris Johnson on the day of his birthday in 2020 when a gathering was held for him in No10
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10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty)

At lunchtime today, the PM’s spokesman suggested Sue Gray’s report could be split in two. He said Sue Gray “won’t publish anything that relates to the work of the police” – while continuing to work on allegations that do not reach the police “threshold”.

But it’s understood this stance changed moments later, when Scotland Yard made it clear they do not believe her report would prejudice a trial.

This is because punishments for breaking lockdown were mostly fixed penalty notices, which do not require a jury or a full court process.

Since this lunchtime, the Cabinet Office has been in talks with Scotland Yard about whether a full report could be published.

At 4pm today The Times reported that Ms Gray has cleared publication with the Metropolitan Police and plans to hand her report over to Boris Johnson later this week.

A government source told the Mirror No10 getting hold of Sue Gray’s report “could happen as quickly” as today if there are no major obstacles.

If so, the report could be published by No10 on Wednesday just before PMQs, the source said.

Police will investigate “a number of events” where Covid lockdown rules were allegedly broken (stock photo)
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Image:

GettyImages)

This afternoon the Prime Minister’s spokesman would not be drawn – saying only that discussions around details are still being worked through between police and the investigations team

The Prime Minister is already fighting for his political life ahead of the Whitehall probe.

Scotland Yard’s announcement threatened to blow apart his attempts to shore up support among mutinous Tory MPs who are already plotting his downfall.

Mr Johnson signaled he is willing to speak to the police but believes he has not broken the law.

He told MPs it is “right” for Scotland Yard to investigate and that he believes it will “help to draw a line under matters”.

Downing Street confirmed the PM was prepared to be interviewed saying he would “cooperate fully” with the police inquiry – including handing over diaries and phone records.

Asked if the PM thinks he has not broken the law, his spokesman said: “I need to be cautious about what I say but I think that’s fair to say that he does not.”

However, Mr Johnson is believed to have attended at least half a dozen of the social gatherings, even if only for a short time, while the rest of the country faced restrictions.

The last time a PM was interviewed by police was Tony Blair during the cash-for-honours row which began in 2006 but lasted 16 months, overshadowing the final days of his leadership.

The Mirror understands Scotland Yard has not objected to the publication of any part of Sue Gray’s report.

Cabinet Office officials are understood to be in discussions with the Met over how much of the report can be released, and when.

In a statement, her office said: “The investigation being carried out by Sue Gray is continuing. There is in ongoing contact with the Metropolitan Police Service.”

Downing Street had earlier faced claims of trying to hide behind the police investigation.

A Government source had told the Mirror: “If you join the dots it’s an almost inescapable conclusion that we cannot publish the investigation until the Met have finished their inquiry.”

Ms Gray is also looking into surprise birthday party thrown for the PM by wife Carrie during the first lockdown despite indoor social events being banned.

More than 30 officials gathered for the PM’s birthday bash in the Cabinet Room for up to half an hour on the afternoon of June 19, 2020, according to ITV News.

Mrs Johnson led the staff in a chorus of happy birthday while the PM was presented with a cake by his wife and interior designer Lulu Lytle, before tucking into picnic food from M&S.

Appearing before the London Assembly police and crime committee, the Met chief insisted that her force “police without fear or favour” when challenged about why Scotland Yard hasn’t investigated reports of No 10 parties to date.

But she added: “I absolutely understand there is deep public concern about the allegations that have been in the media over the last several weeks.

“Many many people including many Londoners, and indeed my colleagues have made huge sacrifices and they’ve suffered considerable loss during the pandemic.”

Mr Johnson kept Cabinet ministers in the dark over the police investigation having been launched during their Cabinet meeting.

Only Jacob Rees-Mogg came out to defend Mr Johnson minutes after the Met announced its decision.

“The leadership this country has had under Boris Johnson has been so brilliant – he has got all the big decisions right,” he said.

Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross repeated his call for the PM to resign, saying “the whole thing is very damaging”.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “We welcome this investigation by the Metropolitan police. With Boris Johnson’s Downing Street now under police investigation, how on earth can he think he can stay on as Prime Minister?

“Millions of people are struggling to pay the bills, but Boris Johnson and his government are too wrapped up in scandal to do anything about it. Boris Johnson is a national distraction.

“Conservative MPs should stop propping him up and he should finally do the decent thing and resign.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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