Boris Johnson and Sue Gray clash over ‘secret meeting’ over Partygate report

Boris Johnson and Sue Gray have fallen out over a controversial “secret meeting” between the two just days before Ms Gray’s final report on the Partygate scandal was released.

The senior official’s team is furious over a claim by No10 that she initiated the meeting and is focused on whether some of the 300 or so photos from the lockdown parties should be included in her report.

A spokeswoman for the Gray investigation rejected both proposals, denying that the meeting was for the report’s author “to clarify her intentions” before the police investigation was complete.

The extraordinary briefing war will add pressure on Downing Street to explain why the meeting was held in the first place in the context of an inquiry it has described as “completely independent”.

Labor has warned what it is calling a “secret meeting” will further damage confidence in the probe into the scandal, while the Liberal Democrats have raised fears of “sampling”.

The Prime Minister is among as many as 30 people Ms Gray has told the report is likely to name and have been given until Sunday evening to raise objections.

The release is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, after the Metropolitan Police announced on Thursday that they had completed their investigation with a total of 126 fines against 83 people.

No10 has suggested that the meeting – which took place about a month ago – discuss whether the photos given to the Metropolitan Police should be included in Ms Gray’s report.

This suggestion was rejected by Mrs Gray’s staff, who were amazed that Downing Street had attempted to give the impression that Mrs Gray had initiated the discussion, The Independent understands.

Mr Johnson has said he would like as much information disclosed as possible, but No10 has said “privacy” requirements may require some to be withheld.

The issue of the photos being released is said to be a “live question” but whatever the outcome, access to the images is likely to be demanded by those working on the Commons probe into whether the Prime Minister lied to MPs.

Angela Rayner, Labor Deputy Leader, said: “Boris Johnson urgently needs to explain why he held a secret meeting with Sue Gray to discuss her report, despite his claim that her investigation was fully independent.

“Public confidence in the process has already been exhausted and people deserve to know the truth. Sue Gray’s report must be released in its entirety with all supporting evidence.”

Christine Jardine, a spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrat Treasury Department, said: “Any hint of patchwork would absolutely deride the report. This meeting needs to be explained.”

A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister did not request the meeting and did not seek to influence the outcome in any way. It’s right that Sue decides and it’s all done independently.”

However, the wording of the statement appeared to leave open the question of whether the meeting had been requested by a Downing Street official, if not by the Prime Minister himself.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/partygate-boris-johnson-sue-gray-b2084269.html Boris Johnson and Sue Gray clash over ‘secret meeting’ over Partygate report

Bobby Allyn

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