Five Partygate quotes that show No 10 staff knew they were in the wrong

The Sue Gray report is neutrally written, but several elements show that Downing Street staff planned the events during lockdowns – and were acutely aware that they were not necessarily a good idea:

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.

Will do my best!….

Email from an unnamed Downing Street special adviser to Martin Reynolds, Boris Johnson’s former principal private secretary, amid preparations for a “bring your own booze” drinks in the Downing Street garden on 20 May 2020, which Reynolds had organised.

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

Reynolds in a message to an unknown official after the 20 May drinks.

“I’m not sure it works at all to be honest, which would be a shame. I don’t see how we can have some kind of party though … I think it’s your decision my friend, not mind [sic]! But it obviously comes with rather substantial comms risks.”

Lee Cain, Johnson’s then head of communications, warns Reynolds about plans to hold a leaving event for another No 10 official on 18 June 2020.

£5 or so from everyone who wants to contribute would be fab – thanks team … Looking forward to a chilled WTF next week … depending on how full it gets we can put Friday’s cheese in there.

Message on a No 10 WhatsApp group on 12 December 2020 before an office Christmas party six days later. The £5 contributions would be towards a wine fridge, while “WTF” stands for “wine time Friday”.

The events that I investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen. It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders. The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.

Sue Gray’s verdict on the parties.

The Guardian