SNP call for Sue Gray to be stood down from ‘partygate’ inquiry

MPs are calling instead for a judge-led probe to ensure the investigation is independent.

SNP call for Sue Gray to be stood down from ‘partygate’ inquiry STV News

The SNP are calling for Sue Gray to be stood down from the inquiry into alleged rule-breaking parties being held at Number 10 during a nationwide lockdown as the Prime Minister faces further pressure over the allegations amid new “wine time Friday” reports.

MPs are calling instead for a judge-led probe to ensure the investigation into claims Boris Johnson attended and hosted the drinking events is independent.

The response follows briefings that Gray’s report could censure Johnson for a lack of judgment but cannot rule on whether he breached the Ministerial Code as that is outside her remit.

SNP MP Brendan O’Hara said: “Any suggestion that the findings from this internal inquiry led by Sue Gray could be independent has been smashed – it has already been used to brief journalists in advance that Boris Johnson will only be given a slap on the wrists.

“This report risks being a Whitehall whitewash – another scandal brushed under the Number 10 carpet.

“The SNP has been clear that only a judge-led inquiry, which is independent of government, is fit to properly investigate the countless rule-breaking drinking parties.”

It comes as further claims emerged of regular “wine time Friday” gatherings in Downing Street while coronavirus rules were in place.

The Mirror said the weekly events are a long-standing No 10 tradition, including under previous administrations, and they continued after Covid restrictions were introduced prohibiting indoor mixing between households.

The newspaper said staff bought a £142 fridge to keep their bottles of alcohol chilled, and the Prime Minister was aware of the socialising.

Meanwhile a former Conservative minister has urged the Prime Minister to “lead or step aside”.

Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood also told the BBC: “We need leadership.”

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting and the purpose with reference to adherence to the guidance at the time.

“The findings will be made public in due course.”