The ‘direct’ investigator behind the partygate report

Sue Gray, the woman tasked with investigating partygate, is expected to deliver her long-awaited report this week.

The civil servant has been released to publish the results of her investigation into Downing Street parties after Met Police completed its investigation into breaches of Covid restrictions.

But who is the woman holding the potentially damaging report, and why was she chosen? Here we explain everything.

Last orders for Boris?

In the 1980s, Mrs Gray briefly paused her Civil Service career to buy a pub in Newry, near the Irish border, during The Troubles.

If Boris Johnson needed evidence that his chief inquisitor isn’t a pushover, then owning a pub in Northern Ireland’s “bandit country” proves that’s not a soft touch.

Ms Gray was tasked with investigating a series of alleged lockdown parties held in Downing Street and across the government during the Covid pandemic. The report has now been completed, with initial findings that there were “failures of leadership and judgment”.

The report, which was published on gov.uk, is 12 pages long and reveals that 12 meetings were the subject of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

The prime minister had been questioned by Ms Gray about the partygate allegations he and other MPs faced and The Telegraph understands he shared everything he knew with the official.

Dominic Cummings was also interviewed by Ms Gray as part of her investigation. Johnson’s former top adviser, who has criticized the prime minister since he left No. 10, previously claimed on his blog that he and other witnesses were willing to swear under oath that Johnson had “lied to Parliament about the parties.”

However, Mr. Cummings refused to meet with Ms. Gray in person because he feared that Mr. Johnson would “tell the media” and instead emailed his responses.

Ominously for the Prime Minister, an MP once described her as a “god deputy”, while Sir Oliver Letwin admitted when in Cabinet that it took “precisely two years before I realized who is running Britain”, adding: “Our great United Kingdom is actually completely run by a lady called Sue Grey. Nothing moves in Whitehall unless Sue says so.

‘A straight shooter’

Friends called her a “sniper” who would leave no stone unturned in getting to the truth about the various parties – Downing Street calls them “reunions” – but would also investigate the “culture” within Number 10 that allowed them to occur in the first place.

They point out the irony that if she had been in the Cabinet Office at the time of the outbreak of the covid pandemic, Mrs Gray would have stopped any party once she found out about it.

Mrs. Gray can’t stand fools. For six years, she was Director General, Decorum and Ethics, in the Cabinet Office.

He investigated the ‘plebgate’, in which former police chief Andrew Mitchell was accused of insulting a police officer, and allegations that Damian Green had used his parliamentary computer to access pornography. Green, then deputy prime minister, was forced to resign.

Now 63, Gray has held senior civil service posts under several prime ministers, both Labor and Conservative, and has managed to keep politicians in the dark about his own political leanings.

public servant in a public house

Gray and her husband, Bill Conlon, an acclaimed country and western singer, bought a pub, with family connections, called The Cove in the late 1980s. They ran it for several years before she returned to the Civil Service, working at Whitehall in transport, health, work and pensions, before joining the Cabinet Office in the late 1990s.

She served in Northern Ireland as a permanent secretary in Stormont’s finance department, but was passed over for the top job of head of the Northern Ireland civil service in 2020.

In a rare interview, she told the BBC that she “really wanted the job” but felt she had been passed over because “people might have thought maybe I was too challenging or disruptive”.

She returned to the Cabinet Office in May 2021 to take up the role of Second Permanent Secretary with responsibility for the Union and the Constitution.

Now that he has returned and the results of his report have been published, Boris Johnson will face trial by MPs. Once the Metropolitan Police have concluded their own investigation.

This article is kept up to date with the latest information.

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