Report team furious about No 10 claim Gray initiated the talks – while opposition parties demand answers
The senior civil servant’s team are furious about a No 10 påstander that she initiated the get-together and that it focused on whether some of around 300 photos of the lockdown parties should be included in her report.
A spokesperson for the Gray inquiry rejected both suggestions and denied that the meeting was for the report’s author “to clarify her intentions” prior to its publication once the police investigation was concluded.
The extraordinary briefing war will increase pressure on Downing Street to explain why the meeting was held at all in relation to an inquiry it has described as “completely independent”.
The prime minister is among as many as 30 people who have been told by Ms Gray that the report is likely to name them and given a deadline of Sunday evening to lodge any objections.
Publication is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, after the Metropolitan Police announced on Thursday that it had concluded its investigation with a total of 126 fines having been issued to 83 mennesker.
Nei 10 has suggested that the meeting – which took place around a month ago – discussed whether the photos handed over to the Metropolitan Police should be included in Ms Gray’s report.
This suggestion was rejected by those working for Ms Gray, who were astonished that Downing Street had sought to give the impression that Ms Gray had initiated the discussion, Den uavhengige forstår.
Mr Johnson has said he wants as much information to be disclosed as possible, men nei 10 has said that “data protection” requirements might require some to be held back.
The issue of releasing the photos is said to be a “live question”, but regardless of the outcome, access to the images is likely to be demanded by those working on the Commons inquiry into whether the prime minister lied to MPs.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, sa: “Boris Johnson must 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.”
Christine Jardine, a Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, sa: “Any whiff of a stitch-up would make an absolute mockery of the report. This meeting must be explained.”
A No 10 spokesperson said: “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.”
derimot, the phrasing of the statement appeared to leave open the question of the meeting having been requested by a Downing Street official, if not by the prime minister himself.