Sue Gray’s report on alleged Downing Street parties has been published and is likely to cause further controversy rather than quiet it.
She claims that the very first event she discusses – in which Boris Johnson and others were pictured sitting around a table drinking wine on May 15, 2020, was a legitimate work meeting.
But the rules she herself describes in her report stated that “participating in a gathering of more than two persons in public was prohibited except where the gathering was ‘essential for work purposes’… Social distancing guidance applied, with workplaces required ‘to maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible'”.
Was the gathering “essential for work purposes”? Sue Gray tells us, “the Prime Minister, Martin Reynolds (his Principal Private Secretary), and Dominic Cummings (his senior adviser) were continuing a lengthy meeting that had started in the Prime Minister’s office, before moving to the garden at around 18.00.” Why did they have to meet in person for this meeting? Why were they not socially distanced (you can see from the image above that they are not two metres distant from each other? And crucially, how can it have been a work meeting if there was alcohol provided – and by the prime minister as well?
This Writer has never been to a work meeting at which alcohol was freely available and imbibed by those present.
Those who were there were ignoring social distancing rules that they had imposed.
And there was no reason for them to be in the same space as each other at all.
This was a social gathering, not a works meeting, and Sue Gray has ignored the evidence.
In her favour, Gray criticises those who participated in the events for failing to come forward with full details after her investigation was announced, instead allowing information to become available “piecemeal” as it was revealed by the press. “This is disappointing. Given the piecemeal manner in which events were brought to my attention, it is possible that events took place which were not the subject of investigation.”
This can only be seen as criticism of Boris Johnson as he made it perfectly clear from the start that he would not willingly provide any information about what had happened in Downing Street on his watch.
That’s what This Writer sees after reading just 11 pages into the 60-page report. It seems clear that, like the police before her (or indeed, after her, if this report was in fact written before they started their investigation), Sue Gray has given Boris Johnson every break possible – even if there is damning information in the rest of her report. That is shameful in itself.
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