Simon Case faces ‘stinging criticism in Sue Gray Partygate report’

Senior official Simon Case is expected to be hit hard by the long-awaited Sue Gray Partygate report, although he has not been fined over the scandal, it has been reported.

Reports also suggest that the document, which is expected to be released in the coming days, will include photos of illegal gatherings.

It comes as Boris Johnson is urged to explain the purpose of a ‘secret’ meeting with the senior official.

It follows the conclusion of a separate Metropolitan Police investigation into Covid irregular events at the heart of government, which saw a total of 83 people receive at least one notice of fixed payment (FPN) for attending events on eight different days.

The PM was only fined for his 56th birthday gathering in June 2020, when indoor mixing was banned alongside his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The Johnsons were later told by police they were not facing any further action, according to Downing Street and Mr Sunak was not given an additional FPN.

The Telegraph quoted a source as saying Mr Case would make “stinging criticism” of the Gray report.

“As head of the civil service, the ultimate responsibility rested with him,” they added.

The Cabinet Office declined to comment on the reports about the permanent secretary.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Laura Farris suggested she could step down as Secretary’s Assistant at the Foreign Office to continue her role on the Commons Privileges Committee, which is tasked with investigating whether the Prime Minister deliberately misled Parliament about the Partygate.

Ms Farris, who is currently both Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) and a member of the committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour program the two roles were “incompatible” in the circumstances and “that needs to be resolved this week”. .

Simon Case is expected to be hit hard by the Sue Gray report

(PA)

“One or the other will go. If I am to remain on the committee, I will step down as PPS so that there is no conflict,” she said.

When asked which option she was leaning toward, she said she thought staying on the committee was “the right thing to do.”

The committee’s leader, Labor MP Chris Bryant, had previously withdrawn from the parliamentary inquiry after making his views clear to the media about Mr Johnson’s behaviour.



One or the other will go. If I am to remain on the committee, I will resign as PPS so that there is no conflict

MP Laura Farris

Cabinet ministers failed to shed light on the circumstances of the controversial meeting between Mr Johnson and Ms Gray, details of which first emerged on Friday when Labor said people “deserve to know the truth”.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted during a round of radio interviews on Sunday that he did not know who called the meeting or what was discussed, while Ms Gray has “complete control” over what is released in the document.

International Trade Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan also said she didn’t know who organized the talks, adding: “I don’t follow anyone’s diaries.”

Mr Johnson and Ms Gray are understood to have met at least once during the preparation of the report to find out about the report’s progress, but a Whitehall source said its contents were never discussed.

The exact nature of the talks remains unclear.

Such meetings were not considered unusual, the source said, to take stock of the status of the report.

It was first reported by the BBC that the discussions touched on whether photos would be made publicly available, and that Ms Gray initiated the meeting “to clarify her intentions” about what would happen once the police investigation was complete.

However, a spokesperson for the Gray Inquiry disputed this account of events.

A No.10 source insisted the request for the meeting did not come from Mr Johnson.

Nadhim Zahawi refused to say whether No10 called a controversial “secret meeting” with Sue Gray over her Partygate investigation

(PA wire)

It was reported that the idea was actually suggested by a No. 10 official while Ms Gray’s calendar invitation was being sent.

This version of events has been confirmed PA News agency from a source close to the investigation, but there have been conflicting reports about the circumstances leading up to the talks.

It came as around 30 people, including Mr Johnson, were contacted by the Cabinet Office to warn them about the contents of the document.

Most of the letters are believed to have been sent on Thursday, as the Met concluded its investigation.

Angela Rayner, Labor Deputy Leader, urged the PM to “urge to explain” why the “secret meeting” with Ms Gray took place.

Downing Street insisted Mr Johnson had been “clear throughout” that the report should be “entirely independent”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/partygate-sue-gray-boris-johnson-simon-case-b2084887.html Simon Case faces ‘stinging criticism in Sue Gray Partygate report’

Bobby Allyn

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