Boris Johnson is bracing for a battle to save his premiership after a long-awaited report into a series of lockdown-breaking parties in Whitehall and Downing Street criticized a culture of rule-breaking parties and published photographs of the British Prime Minister at two separate events.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray, who wrote the report, said “the senior leadership at the centre” of Johnson’s administration “must bear responsibility” for a culture that allowed several parties to take place.
She added there is “no excuse for some of the behaviour” she investigated, which on at least one occasion included “excessive alcohol consumption” and saw a staff member vomiting from over-drinking.
A picture of Johnson raising a can of beer at a birthday party thrown in his honor was included in the dossier, alongside more images of Johnson at another event.
The report probed 16 events that took place at the heart of government while the United Kingdom was living under strict Covid-19 restrictions.
Gray also found that Johnson attended a garden party in May 2020 for around half an hour, where approximately “30-40 people” were present.
Logs of email exchanges were also featured, including some where staff were told to avoid “walking around waving bottles of wine” while media were in the building, and to keep the sound down at gatherings when a Covid-19 ministerial press conference was taking place.
An invitation to a garden party that Johnson was pictured attending told staff of “socially distanced drinks” in the Downing Street garden, open to “whoever is in your office.”
“Could you also suggest they bring their own booze! Not sure we will have enough,” the email from Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal private secretary, said, according to the report. The next day, Reynolds noted the media had not reported on the party, writing to a colleague: “We seem to have got away with (it).”
And Gray hinted that Downing Street officials had been unwilling to provide information about the parties, writing: “It was also unfortunately the case that details of some events only became known to me and my team through reporting in the media. This is disappointing.”
Johnson’s time in office has been derailed by the months-long scandal dubbed “Partygate” by the British media. He initially denied any events had taken place, but 16 were subsequently investigated by Gray, 12 were probed by the police and Johnson himself was fined by officers for attending one.
On the eve of the report’s release, ITV News published photographs of Johnson raising a glass with several of his colleagues at a leaving event in November 2020, when indoor mixing was banned.
Johnson is set to address the House of Commons later on Wednesday. Some of the lawmakers in his own Conservative party have joined opposition calls for him to resign in recent weeks, and he will now have to convince his colleagues to stand by him despite the slew of allegations and Gray’s damning inquiry.