Sue Gray report into Downing Street gatherings finds "serious failures" of government officials

Sue Gray report into Downing Street gatherings finds "serious failures" of government officials

THE SUE Gray report into gatherings at No 10 Downing Street during Covid-19 restrictions between 2020 and 2021 has found that at least some of the them represented a serious failure to observe the high standards expects of those working in government and also of the standards expected of the entire British population.

Published today, the report delves into 16 different gatherings with interviews carried out with over 70 individuals and examination of documentary and digital information such as WhatsApp messages, text messages and photographs also building entry and exit logs also being being carried out.

As a criminal investigation is currently underway into the gatherings, Gray said she was "extremely limited" in what she could say about the events.

She also noted that it "is not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information".

Four of the events are considered by police to have not met the threshold for criminal investigation, and so there are no limitations in place for them, however Gray felt she could not publish details about them "without detriment to the overall balance of the findings".

Her general findings said that "some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify".

"At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public.

"Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did."

She found that the "excessive consumption of alcohol" was not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time."

The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and private residents of No 10 and No 11, while during the pandemic it was often used as an extension of the workplace as a "more covid secure means of holding meetings in a ventilated space."

While Gray found this was appropriate, she said the garden was used for gatherings "without clear authorisation or oversight," which was inappropriate.

Some staff felt unable to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but felt unable to do so.

The expansion of Downing Street more akin to a small government department as opposed to a dedicated Prime Minister's office was also raised.

Gray found the structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street "have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion".

"The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability," the report finds.

"Too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose principal function is the direct support of the Prime Minister. This should be addressed as a matter of priority."

The report concludes that significant learnings should be drawn from the events, and that such learning does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to make a statement to MPs on the report at 3.30pm.