The Prime Minister has received Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street drinking parties during lockdown which could determine his fate.
MPs are expecting to be able to read the much-anticipated inquiry before Johnson delivers a statement in the House of Commons – although it is expected to be heavily redacted due to an ongoing police investigation.
Who is Sue Gray?
Gray is second permanent secretary at the department for levelling up, housing and communities.
She took over the investigation into the alleged Downing Street parties after cabinet secretary Simon Case quit his role leading the inquiry following allegations that gatherings were held within his own department.
What is being investigated?
Several alleged coronavirus-rule-breaking gatherings held in various places in Whitehall, including No 10, the Downing Street garden, and the Department of Education.
Gray’s report is expected to establish what happened factually and what rules were in place at the time.
How did it start?
In footage obtained by ITV News in December last year, the Prime Minister’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, were filmed joking about a “fictional” Downing Street party in December 2020.
No 10 had spent the previous week denying any rules were broken in Whitehall at the alleged event on December 18, 2020.
Johnson said he was “sickened and furious” by the video of senior aides laughing about a Christmas “cheese and wine” night.
At PMQ’s on Wednesday, December 8, Johnson said he had asked the cabinet secretary to conduct a full investigation into the situation but that no party happened.
He said that disciplinary action would be taken against anyone found to have breached regulations but said no coronavirus rules were broken.
Former press secretary Stratton resigned following the publication of the leaked footage.
Details of two other alleged parties emerged – an event on November 27, and another at the education department on December 10, 2020.
The country’s top civil servant, Simon Case, was tasked with investigating the allegations.
On Sunday, December 12, reports said a Christmas quiz was held in Whitehall on December 15, after photographic evidence emerged.
The next day, Johnson denied doing anything wrong but said Simon Case’s inquiry would include the Christmas quiz event.
Before the week was out, further allegations that the Prime Minister attended a party with No 10 staff during the first national lockdown in May 2020 followed.
Up to 30 staff were alleged to have gathered in the Downing Street garden, drinking alcohol and eating food.
The next day, the cabinet secretary leading the inquiry stepped down following allegations two parties were held in his own office in December 2020.
It is announced the work will be concluded by Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
On Monday, December 20, UK justice secretary Dominic Raab defends the PM saying the gathering in the garden at 10 Downing Street, with wine and cheese in May 2020 during lockdown, was a work meeting.
The police watchdog decided it will not investigate a complaint over the Metropolitan Police’s handling of an alleged Downing Street party.
Scotland Yard referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after concerns were raised over its response to the December 18, 2020 event, and its lack of an investigation.
Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street employees asking them to “bring your own booze” for an evening gathering, ITV reported.
Reynolds said they should “make the most of the lovely weather”, despite the UK being under tough Covid-19 restrictions in May 2020.
The Met confirmed it was liaising with the Whitehall department over the latest claims.
Johnson made a statement apologising over the gathering, but said he “cannot anticipate” the findings of the inquiry being led by Sue Gray.
The Prime Minister admitted he went into the garden on May 20, but claimed he believed that it was a “work event”.
Then there were fresh allegations of two further Downing Street parties held while coronavirus restrictions were in place, the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Divisions in the Conservative Party appear over the scandal with some claiming the PM’s position is untenable.
Last week, after a turbulent couple of months, Johnson was braced for the delivery of Gray’s report.
On December 24, the partygate scandal grew once again, with him facing allegations that a birthday party was held for him in Downing Street during Covid lockdown.
ITV News reported that up to 30 people attended a gathering on June 19, 2020, with the Prime Minister’s wife serving him cake while those there sang Happy Birthday.
The next day, having previously suggested there would be no investigation, unless the Whitehall inquiry found evidence of criminality, the Met confirmed it would investigate a “number of events” at Downing Street.
On January 28, it emerged Scotland Yard asked for the Whitehall inquiry into allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street to make only “minimal reference” to the events being investigated by police.
The force said it had not delayed the publication of the inquiry into possible lock-down breaking gatherings in Downing Street.
On Friday, the Met stressed the timing of its release was a matter for the Cabinet Office.
Commander Catherine Roper, who leads the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, said her officers would examine material provided to them by the Cabinet Office to determine if individuals broke Covid-19 regulations.
She referenced fixed penalty notices as the normal result for the sort of offences being investigated being found proven, saying the police investigation would be “proportionate to the nature of these offences”.
On Monday, January 31, Gray delivered an update, understood to be a redacted version of her report, to the PM.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided an update on her investigations to the Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided an update to the Prime Minister.
“The findings will be published on gov.uk and made available in the House of Commons library this afternoon and the Prime Minister will then provide a statement to the House after people have had the opportunity to read and consider the findings.”
He expected the Prime Minister’s statement to be made around 3.30pm.