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HomeUK NewsSue Gray report key findings: Karaoke machine, drunkenness and panic button triggered

Sue Gray report key findings: Karaoke machine, drunkenness and panic button triggered

The Sue Gray report details rule-breaking events held across Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdowns – and it’s 60 pages long.

Here, Sky News takes a look at her key criticisms of the government.

Deputy political editor Sam Coates has provided his analysis on the most important sections of the report in grey boxes.

Senior leadership ‘must bear responsibility’ for Downing Street culture

In her conclusions, Sue Gray says that she had already found “failures of leadership and judgment” across both Number 10 and the Cabinet Office in the update she gave back in January, before the Met Police announced its own investigation.

She elaborates by saying that many of the events she investigated were “attended by leaders in government” and “should not have been allowed to happen”.

As a result, she writes, “more junior civil servants believed that their involvement was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders”.

“The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture,” she concludes.

“Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this. “

‘Excessive alcohol’ consumed on June 18

New details have emerged of the leaving party on 18 June 2020.

The event was split into two parts, the first was in the Cabinet Room and attended by more than 25 people, including Dominic Cummings and Simon Case, the then-permanent secretary for COVID and the pandemic response. It began between 6.30pm and 7pm and had ended by 7.40pm.

The second part moved into the cabinet secretary’s private waiting room and wasn’t attended by everyone who went to the first part. It began at around 7.50pm and “lasted several hours”.

Sue Gray writes that “some brought pizza and prosecco” and that Helen MacNamara, the then-deputy cabinet secretary, “provided a karaoke machine”.

Ms Gray reveals: “There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals.”

On eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last party-goer left at 4.20am

Two leaving parties took place in Downing Street on 16 April 2021 – the day before Prince Philip’s heavily COVID-restricted funeral.

One was for then-director of Downing Street communications James Slack, and the other for an unnamed Number 10 official.

Detailing the event, Ms Gray writes: “A number of individuals gathered near a child’s swing/slide in the garden, damaging it by leaning on and playing with it.

“This was noticed the next morning and reported to No 10 staff. Some individuals remained in the building and carried on drinking alcohol until the early hours.”

Finally, the report says: “Exit logs indicate that some left after midnight and others between 1.45am and 2.45am. Two members of staff stayed later still, with one leaving at 3.11am and the last leaving at 4.20am.”

Staff told to leave Christmas quiz via back door due to ‘drunkenness’

Detailing the Christmas Zoom quiz on 15 December 2020, Ms Gray says that between 120 and 150 people were involved, including at least 18 in-person at 70 Whitehall.

After the prime minister joined the quiz to read out questions at around 7.50pm, a Number 10 official sent an internal message “referring to ‘drunkenness’ and advising staff to leave No 10 via the back exit”.

“The No 10 official informed the investigation team that they did this in order to avoid staff being photographed by the press outside,” Ms Gray writes.

Panic button triggered and police turn up at Christmas ‘cheese and wine’ night

On Friday, 18 December 2020 the usual, weekly “Wine Time Friday” event was held.

As this was the last working day of the year, it became a cheese and wine night to celebrate.

Laying out what happened, the report says: “At approximately 19.45 that evening, a panic alarm button was accidentally triggered by a member of staff.

“The custodians on duty responded, as did one of the police officers on No 10 door duty.”

It adds: “There was food and alcohol available which had been bought and brought in by staff. Some members of staff drank excessively.

“The event was crowded and noisy such that some people working elsewhere in the No 10 building that evening heard significant levels of noise coming from what they characterised as a party in the Press Office.

“A cleaner who attended the room the next morning noted that there had been red wine spilled on one wall and on a number of boxes of photocopier paper.”

Warning was sent that ‘BYOB’ Downing Street garden party could be a ‘comms risk’

After receiving one of around 200 invites to the now-famous ‘BYOB’ drinks party in the Downing Street garden on 20 May 2020, the then-director of Downing Street communications Lee Cain warned it could be “somewhat of a comms risk”.

The prime minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds told staff in his email: “After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of this lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the garden this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

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Mr Cain responded: “I’m sure it will be fine – and I applaud the gesture – but a 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden of no 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment.”

Although Dominic Cummings has claimed he also raised concerns at this point, Ms Gray says: “We have not found any documentary evidence of this.”

People were warned not to ‘wave around’ bottles of wine

A Number 10 special adviser warned staff attending the ‘socially distanced drinks’ on 20 May 2020 to be “mindful” that the TV press conference may still be going on and not to have alcohol on display.

The adviser said in a WhatsApp message to Martin Reynolds: “Drinks this eve is a lovely idea so I’ve shared with the E & V team who are in the office. Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc”.

Martin Reynolds claimed he ‘got away’ with BYOB party

In an undated WhatsApp message, Mr Reynolds told a special adviser they had “got away with” the BYOB party on 20 May 2020.

The message read: “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

Staff ‘felt unable’ to raise concerns and there was ‘poor treatment’ of security/cleaners

In her conclusions, Sue Gray says that staff “witnessed or [had] been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly”.

“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff,” she writes.

Describing it as “unacceptable”, she says she is “reassured to see that steps have been taken since to introduce more easily accessible means by which to raise concerns”.

‘Disappointing’ some events only revealed through media

In her section on the scope of the investigation, Ms Gray says she regrets that some of the events may never have come to light if it wasn’t for them being revealed by the media.

“I am very grateful to those who sought to provide as much information as possible in what I realise may have been a daunting experience given the public profile of this investigation,” she says.

“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.

For more partygate coverage:
Follow live updates as PM responds to damning report
All the pictures in the Sue Gray report – including PM with beers

“Given the piecemeal manner in which events were brought to my attention, it is possible that events took place which were not the subject of investigation.”

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