'Got away with it'?: Damning quotes from Sue Gray report into Downing Street parties

The investigation analysed events which took place between May 20 2020 and April 16 2021 in Whitehall.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

The long-anticipated report into Downing Street parties held during coronavirus lockdowns has been published in full.

The investigation, carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray, analysed events which took place between May 20 2020 and April 16 2021 in Whitehall while strict social distancing rules were in place.

Here is a list of key quotes from the report.

– PM provided wine and cheese at garden gathering

Cheese and wine pictured in a garden gathering on May 15 2020 was brought by Boris Johnson from his flat, according to the Sue Gray report. He remained there until 7.20pm, Ms Gray added.

“The Prime Minister brought cheese and wine from his flat. The outdoor part of the meeting lasted for 40 minutes to an hour and they were briefly joined by the Prime Minister’s wife, during which time the photograph was taken. Martin Reynolds subsequently returned to the office to continue working,” she wrote.

– People should avoid ‘walking around waving bottles of wine’ before bring your own booze party

A No 10 special adviser warned Mr Reynolds, principal private secretary to the Prime Minister, that it would be “helpful” if people avoided “walking around waving bottles of wine” ahead of a bring your own booze garden party on May 20 2020, the report said.

The report said the adviser sent a message by WhatsApp at 14:08 stating: “Drinks this eve is a lovely idea so I’ve shared with the E & V team who are in the office. Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc.”

Mr Reynolds replied: “Will do my best!”

– Bring your own booze party was ‘somewhat of a comms risk’

Lee Cain
Lee Cain (Victoria Jones/PA)

Then-communications chief Lee Cain warned Mr Reynolds and Dominic Cummings that the party on May 20 2020 was “somewhat of a comms risk” due to the nation being under strict lockdown rules.

According to the investigation, Mr Cain sent an email to Mr Cummings and Mr Reynolds which said: “I’m sure it will be fine – and I applaud the gesture – but a 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden of no 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment.”

– Martin Reynolds said ‘we seem to have got away with’ bring your own booze party

The principal private secretary to the Prime Minister boasted “we seem to have got away with” the party in a WhatsApp message to a special adviser.

A No 10 adviser thanked Mr Reynolds for “providing the wine”, saying it was “a very kind thing to do and I know everyone really appreciated it”.

In another WhatsApp message on an unknown date to a special adviser, Mr Reynolds wrote: “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

Martin Reynolds with Boris Johnson
Martin Reynolds with Boris Johnson (Yui Mok/PA)

– Ethics chief provided a karaoke machine for June 18 2020 gathering

Former proprietary and ethics chief Helen MacNamara provided a karaoke machine for a Cabinet Office gathering for the departure of a No 10 official on June 18 2020, Ms Gray’s report found.

The report said: “Helen MacNamara, deputy Cabinet Secretary, attended for part of the evening and provided a karaoke machine which was set up in an adjoining office to the waiting room.”

– Security and cleaning staff faced ‘unacceptable’ treatment

Ms Gray said she learned of multiple examples of “unacceptable” treatment of security and cleaning staff during her investigation.

She wrote: “I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly.

“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable.”

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