We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Boris Johnson outside No 10 Downing Street Alamy Stock Photo

Johnson apologises as Gray report says No 10 parties showed 'failures of leadership and judgement'

Several of the gatherings should not have been allowed to take place, the report has found.

LAST UPDATE | 31 Jan 2022

GATHERINGS HELD IN Downing Street during Covid-19 restrictions showed “failures of leadership and judgement” by No 10 and the UK Cabinet Office, Sue Gray’s report has found.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised in the House of Commons after the redacted Gray report on the “partygate” allegations of lockdown-busting gatherings was published this afternoon.

Gray found that “at least some of the gatherings” she investigated represent “a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time”.

“There were failures of leadership and judgement by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times,” the report said.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Johnson told MPs: “Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.”

“It’s no use saying this or that was within the rules and it’s no use saying people were working hard. This pandemic was hard for everyone,” he said.

Johnson said he “accepts Sue Gray’s general findings in full” and “above all her recommendation that we must learn from these events and act now”.

“First it is time to sort out what Sue Gray rightly calls the fragmented and complicated leadership structures of Downing Street which she says have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of the expansion of Number 10 and we will do that, including by creating an Office of the Prime Minister with a permanent secretary to lead Number 10.”

prime-minister-boris-johnson-delivers-a-statement-to-mps-in-the-house-of-commons-on-the-sue-gray-report-picture-date-monday-january-31-2022 Boris Johnson delivering a statement to the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Gray report

In a statement, the Cabinet Office said Gray had provided an “update” on her investigation to the Prime Minister.

The document is a limited version of the report into No 10 and Whitehall parties during Covid-19 restrictions in the UK.

Gray said the Downing Street garden was “used for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight” and “this was not appropriate”. 

The report concluded: “The gatherings within the scope of this investigation are spread over a 20-month period – a period that has been unique in recent times in terms of the complexity and breadth of the demands on public servants and indeed the general public.

“The whole of the country rose to the challenge. Ministers, special advisers and the Civil Service, of which I am proud to be a part, were a key and dedicated part of that national effort.

“However, as I have noted, a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did. There is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across Government. This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”

Police are investigating the gathering in the Cabinet Room in No 10 on Boris Johnson’s birthday in 2020, Sue Gray’s update on her inquiry suggests, as well as gatherings on at least eight separate dates.

Scotland Yard last week asked Gray to make only “minimal reference” to gatherings being investigated by its officers.

Downing Street has so far refused to commit to publishing a fuller version of Gray’s findings once the police investigation has concluded.

The report reveals 12 events are being investigated by the police, including a gathering in the Downing Street flat and an event to mark Boris Johnson’s birthday in June 2020.

While Gray makes some broad findings about “failures of leadership and judgment” in parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office, her report makes clear that the police investigation prevented more substantial findings being presented.

“As a result of the Metropolitan Police’s investigations, and so as not to prejudice the police investigative process, they have told me that it would only be appropriate to make minimal reference to the gatherings on the dates they are investigating.

“Unfortunately, this necessarily means that I am extremely limited in what I can say about those events and it is not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather.”


Responding to Johnson in the House of Commons, Labour leader Keir Starmer called on him to publish Sue Gray’s report in full.

He said it is already clear that what she has disclosed so far is “the most damning conclusion possible”.

“The Prime Minister repeatedly assured the House that the guidance was followed and the rules were followed, but we now know that 12 cases have breached the threshold for criminal investigation,” Starmer said.

He said British people believe Johnson should “do the decent thing and resign”.

Conservative former Prime Minister Theresa May said the public “had a right to expect their Prime Minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules and indeed those around him to have done so too and to set an example in following those rules”.

“What the Gray report does show is that Number 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public, so either my right honourable friend had not read the rules or didn’t understand what they meant and others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?” May asked.

Johnson replied: “No, Mr Speaker that is not what the Gray report says, I suggest that she waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.”

former-prime-minister-theresa-may-responds-to-a-statement-by-prime-minister-boris-johnson-to-mps-in-the-house-of-commons-on-the-sue-gray-report-picture-date-monday-january-31-2022 Theresa May in the House of Commons this afternoon Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Former Cabinet minister and Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell said the Prime Minister no longer has his support following the publication of Gray’s update.

He said Johnson had his “full-throated support” for 30 years but that “he no longer enjoys my support”.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the Sue Gray’s report was a “farce” with “no facts”.

During his speech, Blackford was repeatedly asked by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to withdraw the word “misled” after accusing Johnson of having “wilfully misled Parliament”.

Blackford told MPs: “So here we have it. The long-awaited Sue Gray report, what a farce. It was carefully engineered to be a fact-finding exercise, with no conclusions. Now we find it’s a fact-finding exercise with no facts.

“So let’s talk facts. The Prime Minister has told the House that all guidance was completely followed, there was no party, Covid rules were followed and that ‘I believed it was a work event’.

“Nobody, nobody believed it then. And nobody, nobody believes you now, Prime Minister. That is the crux – no ifs, no buts – he has wilfully misled Parliament.”

The speaker of the house asked SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford to confirm he had withdrawn claims that the Prime Minister had misled Parliament.

After back and forth between the two, the Speaker said: “Under the power given to me by standing order number 43 I order the honourable member to withdraw immediately from the House.”

Blackford walked out the chamber before the Speaker had finished, with the Speaker noting: “It’s all right, we don’t need to bother.”

The prime minister faced a demand from one of his backbenchers to publish the full Sue Gray report immediately.

Dr Julian Lewis said: “May I advise him publicly what I have said to emissaries from his campaign team privately: that it is truly in his interest, in the Government’s interest, and in the national interest that he should insist on receiving the full, unredacted report immediately, as I believe he can, and that he should then publish the uncensored version without any further delay?”

Johnson replied: “I think extensive legal advice has been taken on this point and Sue Gray has published everything that she thinks she can that is consistent with that advice.”


The Metropolitan Police has said officers are reviewing “at pace” more than 300 images and 500 pages of information handed over from the Cabinet Office.

“Having received the documentation from the Cabinet Office on Friday 28 January, we are now reviewing it at pace to confirm which individuals will need to be contacted for their account,” the Met said in a statement.

“If following an investigation officers believe it is appropriate, because the Covid regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice would normally be issued,” it said.

“Once the penalty is paid, the matter is considered closed. Alternatively, individuals may decide to dispute the notice. In these circumstances officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in a magistrates’ court.

“We do understand that the Met’s action in assessing and responding to these allegations will divide opinion. However police officers must, based on the information available to them, make carefully considered, difficult decisions, even when to do so is contentious.”

No 10 has said Johnson will “consider asking Sue Gray to update her work in light of what is found” by the Metropolitan Police.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel