A report into the lockdown parties held in Downing Street has blamed senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, and says they “must bear responsibility for this culture.”
The long-awaited ‘Party Gate’ report by Sue Gray, second permanent secretary, published on Wednesday, said the events, many of which should not have been allowed to happen, were attended by leaders in government.
“The events that I investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen,” Mr Gray said. He added that “it is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders.”
The report investigated 16 alcohol-fuelled gatherings attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his staff in 2020 and 2021 while the United Kingdom was barred from socialising under coronavirus restrictions.
“Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of government,” the report said. “The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this.”
PREMIUM TIMES in January reported how Mr Johnson came under fire for attending a party in Downing Street during the lockdown in the UK in 2020. Mr Johnson had said he believed the gathering was a work event.
Addressing parliament on Wednesday, the prime minister said, “I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch,” adding that the report demanded political and official leaders “take ultimate responsibility and of course I do.”
He referred to the gathering as a ‘short lunch time gathering.’
Mr Johnson, however, has yet to show signs of heeding calls from critics to resign over the issue.
Although calls for his resignation had died down following the Russia-Ukraine war, Mr Gray’s report will most likely reawaken calls for his resignation.
For Mr Johnson to resign, a vote of no confidence will have to be passed after 15 per cent of party politicians, about 54 people, write letters calling for one.
Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999