«Partygate»: Johnson refused to resign after tough Sue Gray report
Six months after the first revelations about parties in Downing Street during quarantine, British politicians are mired in excuses. The endless saga was resumed on Wednesday, May 25, after the publication in its entirety of the report of senior civil servant Sue Gray. The investigation began in December 2021, and was ready at the end of January. However, Scotland Yard blocked its publication, announcing the beginning of its own investigation.
Ms. Gray, a public servant with a good reputation, was able to reveal only excerpts from her work at the time, but the conclusions were already instructive. She listed 16 problematic «meetings» between May 2020 and April 2021 and noted serious leadership failures in Downing Street.
The police investigation was completed in mid-May. As a result, 126 fines were imposed for violating sanitary rules, including one on the Prime Minister and one on the Chancellor of the Treasury Rishi Sunak. Therefore, nothing prevented a high-ranking civil servant from completely lifting the veil over the actions of Boris Johnson, his cabinet and his advisers during the pandemic.
Many of the details presented in the forty pages of the document describe officials who largely ignored the draconian sanitary rules that they themselves introduced and imposed on the rest of the country. Despite the strict ban on meetings until the summer of 2020, more than six people have been gathering indoors or outdoors since the fall of the same year.
On May 15, 2020, in full strict quarantine, several people from Downing Street, including Prime Minister Johnson and his then special adviser Dominic Cummings, gathered in the gardens of Downing Street to have a drink. Boris Johnson brought cheese and wine from his private apartment located at 11 Downing Street.
The «garden Party» on May 20, 2020 was planned for almost a whole week, and despite some reservations expressed, in particular, by the then Director of Communications (Lee Kane), an email reminder was sent on the same day on behalf of Martin Reynolds, Mr. Johnson’s personal secretary, 200 recipients.
On June 18, prosecco flowed all day in Downing Street, and Helen McNamara, then director of ethics at the Cabinet Office, even provided a karaoke system. That day, Sue Gray notes, the guests drank too much, one of them became ill, and there was even a scuffle. The last guest left the room at 3 a.m.
The materials presented by Sue Gray caused a real stir in politics, the media and society. However, despite this, Boris Johnson categorically refuses to resign. According to him, he participated in the party for only a short time, visiting it as an absolutely random guest.