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The most shocking revelations from Sue Gray’s partygate report on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street gatherings

Someone being sick, a children’s swing being broken, excessive drinking, staff leaving as late as 4.20am and police being called when a panic alarm was set off: These are just some of the findings of Sue Gray’s report into lockdown parties in Downing Street.

You can follow live reaction and updates from the senior civil servant’s report into breaches of lockdown at the heart of government here. Ms Gray’s concluded that some of the behaviour was “unacceptable” and that senior leaders had to bear responsibility for setting a culture that junior members of staff followed.

As a result of Ms Gray’s interim report, a Met Police investigation saw 126 fines handed out by the police to 83 people including the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie. Today’s report was only able to be published following the conclusion of the police inquiry and shows the full extent of what she found, including nine photographs of the Prime Minister at two events.

Ms Gray’s report looked into seven gatherings in Downing Street at a time lockdown restrictions were in force and these are some of the most shocking revelations for each one:

Official boasted they ‘got away with’ the first garden party at Downing Street on May 20, 2020

  • “We seem to have to away with” our drinks” – This event at the height of the first lockdown was referenced in a subsequent Whatsapp message on an unknown date from the man who organised it, Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, to a special adviser. In the message he appeared to gloat that they’d got away with it as the press were obsessed with a ‘non story. He wrote: “Best of luck a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

  • The event had gone ahead despite concerns being raised about it – The drinks event went ahead despite a number of people raising concerns about them. A No 10 Director declined the invitation and told the investigation that they had raised with either Martin Reynolds or his office that it was not a good idea. Dominic Cummings said he raised concerns also in writing but Sue Gray said “we have not found any documentary evidence of this”. Lee Cairns emailed organiser Martin Reynolds saying that he “applauded the gesture” but that “a 200 odd person invitation for drinks” was “a comms risk”.

Staff left a June 18 leaving do at 3.13am after excessive drinking

  • They knew rules were being broken – An exchange between special advisor Lee Cain and Martin Reynolds said demonstrated that they knew i would be hard to have an event within the rules. Mr Cain said: “I am not sure how it works at all to be honest, which would be a shame. I don’t see how we can have some kind of party though.”
  • One person was sick, and an ‘altercation’ broke out’ – In her report Sue Gray wrote: “There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals. The event broke up in stages with a few members of staff leaving from around 9pm and the last member of staff, who stayed to tidy up, leaving at 3.13am.”
  • There was pizza and karaoke machine – This party also involved prosecco. Helen MacNamara, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, attended for part of the evening and provided a karaoke machine.

Food and alcohol provided at Prime Minister’s birthday party on June 19, 2020

Boris Johnson drank alcohol at a November 13 leaving party for special advisor Lee Cain during England’s firebreak lockdown

  • “Wine time Friday” – Sue Gray was told this event was not pre-planned but happened at the same time as the usual “Wine Time Friday”.
  • The Prime Minister attended – He was on his way to his Downing Street flat, joined the gathering and made a leaving speech for Lee Cain. Wine had been provided and those attending, with the Prime Minister, drinking alcohol. Pictures show Johnson appearing to make a toast

Staff at the December 15 Christmas quiz were told to leave by the back door

  • “Leave via the back exit” to avoid drunk people being photographed – A No 10 official sent a message on internal No 10 systems referring to “drunkenness” and advising staff to leave No 10 via the back exit after the controversial Downing Street Christmas quiz. The No 10 official informed the investigation team that they did this in order to avoid staff being photographed by the press outside.
  • Food and alcohol was available – Food and alcohol was available during the quiz which was purchased by individuals on behalf of their teams. The quiz was both virtual and in person with some teams in the office gathered close together around laptop screens. It finished around 9.30 although some stayed to chat and drink. The Prime Minister has joined the quiz at 7.50pm to ask questions as agreed in advance. He remained for 12 minutes.

Panic alarm set off at a boozy December 18 gathering ahead of the Christmas break and police attended

  • A panic alarm was set off accidently – At one point a panic alarm button was accidentally triggered by a member of staff at the gathering of 45 people, which was included a secret Santa. The police officers on duty attended and “they observed a large number of people in the area outside of the main press pffice and one individual giving a speech”.
  • Staff “drank excessively” – The event was crowded and noisy to such a level some people working elsewhere in the No 10 building that evening heard significant levels of noise coming from what they characterised as a “party”. A cleaner who attended the room the next morning noted that there had been red wine spilled on one wall and on a number of boxes of photocopier paper.”

15 people attended a leaving do on January 14, 2021 when we were all under “stay home” restrictions

  • In total, 15 people attended in person a leaving do for two senior civil servants. The Prime Minister also attended for a short time and gave a short speech.
  • It went on late into the evening – Despite starting at 6pm the report found that “at least some of those present were there beyond 11pm”. They had stayed there to chat and drink, despite the lockdown rules

Child’s swing broken in drunken party after two leaving events on April 16, 2021

There were two gatherings that day – One was for the PM’s spokesman head James Slack and and the other was to mark the departure of a No 10 official.

  • They ended up drinking “excessively” in the garden – both parties ended up combining.
  • People “played on a child’s swing and slide – The report said a number of individuals gathered near a child’s swing/slide in the garden, damaging it by leaning on and playing with it.
  • The event went on very late – the last member of staff left at 4.20am.

Other shocking revelations:

  • Low paid workers were treated with lack of respect – “I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable,” concluded Ms Gray
  • Senior leaders were responsible – “The events that I investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen. It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders. The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility fort his culture,” she added.

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