A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the first day of a debate on the Queen's Speech, in the House of Commons, in London, on May 10, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.05.2022SubscribeUSIndiaGlobalA final report by UK senior civil servant Sue Gray into Downing Street parties, which breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions in 2020 and 2021, is expected to be published later this week. Gray’s interim report on the matter, released in February, found that there were “failures of leadership and judgement” by Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s allies and Sue Gray’s team are clashing over allegations about a recent “secret meeting” between the two just a few days ahead of the publication of the senior civil servant’s final report into the “Partygate” scandal. The row pertains to a spate of Downing Street parties held between 2020 and 2021, which breached COVID-19 lockdown rules.The Daily Mail cited an unnamed senior Whitehall source as saying on Sunday that it was “not true” that the prime minister had sought such a meeting with Gray to discuss her “Partygate” report.

“It is infuriating. They [Gray’s team] have let this impression run that the PM has somehow tried to nobble the report, when nothing could be further from the truth. He wants it all out there, however uncomfortable, so we can all move on. He even wants the photos published,” the source argued.

Another Whitehall insider claimed that Gray is “supposed to be neutral but she’s been busy playing politics and enjoying the limelight a little too much”, something that was rejected by a source close to the senior civil servant.A police officer gestures as he stands outside the entrance to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London, on April 20, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2022Metropolitan Police Issue At Least 50 New Fines Over Partygate ScandalThe claims came as Gray’s team voiced frustration over No 10 allegations that she initiated her secret meeting with Johnson, which allegedly focused on whether some of about 300 photos of the lockdown Downing Street parties should be included in her final report.A spokesperson for the Gray inquiry denied both allegations, also rejecting claims that the get-together was for the senior civil servant “to clarify her intentions” prior to the publication of the report. In an apparent partial concession, No 10 later appeared to accept on Sunday that the Johnson­-Gray meeting was instigated by his aide, but not by the PM himself.“The PM did not request the meeting and hasn’t tried to influence the outcome in any way. It’s right for Sue to decide, and it’s all done independently”, a No 10 spokesperson asserted.

BoJo Under Labour’s Pressure Over His ‘Secret Meeting’ With Gray

The claims about Johnson’s “secret meeting” with Gray were seized on by the opposition to accuse the PM of trying to meddle in the report.Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner urged BoJo to “urgently explain why he held a secret meeting with Sue Gray to discuss her report despite claiming her investigation was completely independent”.“Public confidence in the process is already depleted, and people deserve to know the truth. The Sue Gray report must be published in full and with all accompanying evidence”, Rayner added.She was echoed by Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Christine Jardine who argued that “Any whiff of a stitch up would make an absolute mockery of the report” and that “this [Johnson-Gray] meeting must be explained”.

Gray’s Final Report Expected Within Days

The remarks followed UK media reports that the publication of Gray’s final findings is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, after the Metropolitan (Met) Police announced the conclusion of its own investigation into the Partygate scandal last week. The Met issued a total of 126 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to 83 people over breaches of COVID lockdown regulations during the Downing Street parties between 2020 and 2021.Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons to make a statement about Downing Street parties during the coronavirus lockdowns in London, Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.04.2022Boris Johnson Reportedly Eyeing Early General Election to ‘See Off Rivals’ Amid Partygate FalloutJohnson became the first British PM discovered to have broken the law while in office after he was slapped with the £50 ($66) police fine in mid-April. Although BoJo extended apologies for his mistakes, he claimed that he did not know that he had breached COVID lockdown rules.Gray, who led a Cabinet Office inquiry into the Partygate row, published an interim report in early February, and had been forced to postpone the release of her full findings until Scotland Yard carries out its own inquiry.In the February document, she emphasised that the incidents under investigation were “difficult to justify”, and there had been “failures of leadership and judgement by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.

Sourse: sputniknews.com


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