Sue Gray has received photos of No 10 parties showing Boris Johnson next to wine bottles, Sky News understands

UK

Sue Gray has received photos of Downing Street parties which include Boris Johnson and others close together with wine bottles, Sky News understands.

The latest revelation comes shortly after a government source said senior civil servant Ms Gray’s report into parties in Downing Street and Whitehall that may have broken COVID rules could be published as soon as tomorrow.

Earlier on Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick announced that the force was investigating “a number of events” for potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations.

Live updates as PM ‘could be interviewed under caution’

Sky News understands the Met has not raised an objection to the Cabinet Office inquiry being released before its criminal investigation has concluded.

Downing Street reiterated on Tuesday afternoon that the government wants the report to be published “as soon as possible” and insisted Number 10 is not trying to block its publication.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday January 19, 2022.
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A government source has told Sky News Sue Gray’s report could be published as soon as tomorrow

Gray report could be published as soon as tomorrow

More on Covid-19

The prime minister’s official spokesperson told reporters talks are taking place between Ms Gray’s inquiry team and the Metropolitan Police to decide what can be published from her investigation into the ‘partygate’ row.

It is understood Number 10 has yet to receive a copy of the report. Once it is received it could be published within hours.

The prime minister has vowed to make a statement and answer questions in the House of Commons after its publication.

Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby understands Number 10 is preparing the ground for the prime minister to give a statement on the Gray report and that if the document is received tonight or tomorrow morning, Mr Johnson will deliver this in the Commons later on Wednesday afternoon.

Read more: What could Sue Gray’s inquiry into No10 parties mean for PM and who decides what happens next?

Ms Gray’s report is likely to provide a factual account of what happened at a number of alleged parties, and may present a judgement on whether the events breached rules in place at the time.

Earlier this month Boris Johnson issued an apology in the House of Commons for attending an event in the Number 10 garden on 20 May 2020, claiming he thought it was a “work event”, and asked people to wait for Ms Gray to publish her findings.

Opposition parties and some critics on his own backbenches say any evidence he has misled parliament would amount to a breach of the ministerial code and require the prime minister’s resignation.

Mr Johnson’s leadership is under severe pressure and could be put to a vote if more than 54 Conservative MPs submit letters of no confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

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The prime minister told the House of Commons that he ‘welcomes’ a police investigation into possible COVID breaches in Downing Street.

Number 10 insist publication of Gray report is not being blocked

The prime minister’s official spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday afternoon talks are taking place between Ms Gray’s inquiry team and the Metropolitan Police to decide what can be published from her investigation into the ‘partygate’ row.

“There are discussions still ongoing between the investigations team and the police. I am not privy to those discussions, as I think you’ll appreciate,” he said.

“That still needs to be worked through, both in relation to what may or may not be published and the ongoing work of both the police and the (Gray) investigation.”

The PM’s spokesperson added that decisions on publication were a matter for the Cabinet Office and police and “we are not, as in Number 10, seeking to block that in any way”.

He added it “certainly remains the case that we would want it to be published as soon as possible”, but added: “I would not want to be perceived as putting undue pressure on either the investigations team or the police.”

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Dame Cressida Dick says the metropolitan police are investigating some alleged parties in Downing Street.

PM says police investigation ‘will help give public clarity’

Earlier today, Downing Street said the prime minister is willing to be interviewed by police but does not believe he has broken the law.

And speaking in the Commons, the prime minister told MPs: “I welcome the Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters.”

The Met wrote to the Cabinet Office on Tuesday morning, formally requesting that it refers all relevant information from its inquiry in relation to the events under investigation to support the force’s work.

At this stage there is no estimate for how long its investigation will take, although sources have told Sky News it will take “weeks, not days”.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said it’s “quite right” that Ms Gray and the Met Police are investigating alleged events in Downing Street and Whitehall for potential breaches of coronavirus regulations.

Undated handout photo issued by GOV.UK of Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who will take over from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case who has "recused himself" from leading an investigation into lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall, following allegations of gatherings in his own department. Issue date: Issue date: Friday December 17, 2021.
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Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating a number of parties that took place in Downing Street and across Whitehall while COVID rules were in place

Party pictures follow reports on birthday gathering

The latest reports that Ms Gray has received pictures of the prime minister attending events in Downing Street where alcohol was present come less than 24 hours after Number 10 admitted the prime minister had a birthday celebration inside Downing Street during the first COVID lockdown in 2020.

The PM is under pressure following a raft of disclosures surrounding gatherings in Downing Street and a number of government departments during COVID restrictions.

Mr Johnson has already admitted attending a garden party in Downing Street in May of that year, which was described by one of his aides as a “bring your own booze” event.

But he has claimed he thought it was a “work event” and that “nobody told me” it was against the rules.

The revelation that officials held two parties in Downing Street the day before the Queen sat alone at Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year also provoked fury.

Number 10 later apologised to the Queen and said Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day.

Calls for PM to resign grow

Opposition parties have called on him to resign, with some of his own backbench MPs also demanding Mr Johnson go.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, Sir Keir Starmer said cabinet ministers “need to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they’re still supporting this PM” following the announcement of a Met police probe into Downing Street parties.

“It’s time that some of those cabinet members spoke out and said we’re not tolerating this any longer,” the Labour leader said.

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