The Cabinet Office investigation into gatherings in Downing Street during coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021 could still be published in full in the coming days, Sky News understands.
Sky News understands the Met has not raised an objection to the Cabinet Office inquiry, which is being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, being released before its criminal investigation has concluded.
Number 10 insist publication of Gray report is not being blocked
A final decision on whether to publish in the coming days has not yet been taken, deputy political editor Sam Coates reports.
“Gray will consult with lawyers and some officials. The prime minister and political advisers in Number 10 are not part of this decision, I’m told,” he said.
Meanwhile, Downing Street said the government want the report to be published “as soon as possible” and insisted Number 10 are not trying to block publication of the report.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson told reporter talks are taking place between Ms Gray’s inquiry team and the Metropolitan Police to decide what can be published from her investigation into the ‘partygate’ row.
“There are discussions still ongoing between the investigations team and the police. I am not privy to those discussions, as I think you’ll appreciate,” he said.
“That still needs to be worked through, both in relation to what may or may not be published and the ongoing work of both the police and the (Gray) investigation.”
The PM’s spokesperson added that decisions on publication were a matter for the Cabinet Office and police and “we are not, as in Number 10, seeking to block that in any way”.
He added it “certainly remains the case that we would want it to be published as soon as possible”, but added: “I would not want to be perceived as putting undue pressure on either the investigations team or the police.”
PM says police investigation ‘will help give public clarity’
Boris Johnson is willing to be interviewed by police but does not believe he has broken the law, Downing Street has said.
And speaking in the Commons, the prime minister told MPs: “I welcome the Met’s decision to conduct its own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters.”
The Met wrote to the Cabinet Office on Tuesday morning, formally requesting that it refers all relevant information from its inquiry in relation to the events under investigation to support the force’s work.
At this stage there is no estimate for how long its investigation will take, although sources have told Sky News it will take “weeks, not days”.
Birthday gathering the latest revelation to emerge
The PM is under pressure following a raft of disclosures surrounding gatherings in Downing Street and a number of government departments during COVID restrictions.
Opposition parties have called on him to resign, with some of his own backbench MPs also demanding Mr Johnson go.
In the latest revelation, Number 10 has admitted the PM had a birthday celebration inside Downing Street during the first COVID lockdown in 2020.
Mr Johnson has already admitted attending a garden party in Downing Street in May of that year, which was described by one of his aides as a “bring your own booze” event.
But he has claimed he thought it was a “work event” and that “nobody told me” it was against the rules.
The revelation that officials held two parties in Downing Street the day before the Queen sat alone at Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year also provoked fury.
Number 10 later apologised to the Queen and said Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day.