The publication of a report into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street has been thrown into confusion after the Metropolitan Police said it should make only "minimal reference" to the most serious allegations. Cabinet office official Sue Gray was expected to deliver her report this week and Boris Johnson has promised to publish it in full before making a statement to the House of Commons.
The police said this week they were investigating some of the events Ms Gray looked into and confirmed on Friday that they were negotiating with her team about the contents of the report.
“For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report. The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation,” they said.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he was not aware of any conversations between Downing Street and the police about the report and said No 10 did not ask Ms Gray to go back to the Met to clear her report before publication.
“No, you’ll be aware that the terms of reference clearly set out that the Cabinet Office would keep in contact with the police and again it’s an independent investigation. We haven’t been privy to the details of that investigation or any of its content. So that would be a matter for the investigations team and the Met,” he said.
Calls to resign
A number of Conservative MPs have called for Mr Johnson to resign over the allegations but many others have said they will wait for Ms Gray’s report before taking a view on his future. Fifty-four of the 359 Conservative MPs have to write to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee to trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister’s leadership of the party.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said he wanted Ms Gray's report to be published in full as soon as possible and he accused Mr Johnson of paralysing the government with his behaviour.
“While the Tories are focused on this charade of Boris Johnson’s making, people around the country are worried about paying their bills, whether they can afford to fill up their car, and about the tax rises about to be imposed on them in a few weeks’ time. They are getting no answers from a government mired in sleaze and scandal,” he said.
“The Gray report must be published in full as soon as possible and the police have to get on with their investigation. But Britain faces huge challenges as we emerge from the pandemic and it is offensive that the Government’s sole focus is on cleaning up after themselves.
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Met Police's unexpected decision to call for the report to be redacted was "murky" and created the suspicion that the process was benefiting the prime minister rather than serving accountability.
“I doubt Johnson cares about damage to the reputations of others - individuals or institutions - as long as he saves his own skin. But these things matter. Rapid conclusion and full publication of the findings of inquiries surely now essential for public trust,” she said.