'Partygate' inquiry chief 'will name senior people in Downing Street'

‘Partygate’ inquiry chief Sue Gray ‘will name senior people who attended illicit Christmas events in Downing Street’ rather than blame junior staff for rule-breaking

An official probe into claims Downing Street staff held illicit Christmas parties during lockdown will not scapegoat junior staff but identify senior figures present, it was claimed today.

Whitehall heavy hitter Sue Gray is carrying out out inquiries into three alleged gatherings at No10 and the Department for Education in November and December last year, when indoor mixing was banned.

Fears have been raised that she might pick out junior staff for blame, after it was revealed she had hauled special advisers and Civil Service officials in for questioning before Christmas.

But a source told the Times today: ‘I don’t think she would reasonably expect an office junior to carry the can for senior people who ended up attending any events. 

‘I don’t think she is looking for scapegoats in that sense. If somebody junior was asked to do something that will be reflected, but it will be reflected who asked them to do it.’

Whitehall heavy hitter Sue Gray is carrying out out inquiries into three alleged gatherings at No10 and the Department for Education in November and December last year, when indoor mixing was banned.

She was drafted in from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case quit his role leading the inquiry.

Ms Gray was drafted in from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case quit his role leading the inquiry.

He was forced to step down after it emerged a December 2020 quiz was held in his own department that he was aware of and spoke at. 

Another source told the paper ‘she has to now deliberately go harder than Case because she’s so publicly associated with it (the investigation).’ 

Ms Gray is a former director general of propriety and ethics at The Cabinet Office and has been described as the most powerful civil servant you have never heard of.

In her former job as director-general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office she had enormous power and long experience in Westminster scandals, and developed a fearsome reputation among ministers and officials.

She dealt with complaints against ministers on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary and Prime Minister.

Her inquiry into the so-called Plebgate affair led to the resignation of minister Andrew Mitchell.

Her investigation into Damian Green led to his forced resignation after she discovered he had lied about pornography found on his Commons computer.

From 2018 to 2021 she served as the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance at the Northern Ireland Executive.

She returned to London to head up work on the Union earlier this year.

No10 deny that parties happened when indoor gatherings were banned in the capital in November and December last year. 

But one of Boris Johnson’s top advisers is alleged to have given a speech and handed out awards at one gathering on December 18. 

Jack Doyle, then the PM’s deputy director of communications and since promoted, is said to have made a ‘thank you’ speech to up to 50 people who attended the bash. 

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