Lied and misled the House
So the “updated” report from Sue Gray has been published. The brief report, as most of its findings have had to be deleted because of the Met investigation, can be read here
Many are covering the findings so I’m not going into that here. Instead some indications of what many are thinking, Tweeting and writing about a report which was unable to comply with the terms of reference set down lest it compromise the Met investigation, although a number of legal people denied publishing her report in full would have had this effect.
The little Gray does say paints quite a troubling picture, without being specific on any events. The conclusions in her truncated report are damning, though couched in diplomatic language presumably approved by her lawyers. These leave no doubt that the gatherings didn’t comply with the rules and took place with complete disregard for the public, indeed even contempt for it.
Apparently 16 parties took place during lockdown – when this was clearly against the rules. Of these 16 events 12 are being investigated by the Met, 3 of these are believed to have been attended by the PM, with one in his own flat. Investigation, of course, does not mean all or any of these events will be found to be against the law or rule breaking incurring fixed penalty fines. However the number of events involved suggests a pattern rather than a one-off, so making it harder to justify them.
Number 10 found wanting
The findings should be deeply uncomfortable for the Prime Minister and government. Leadership, responsibility and accountability are said to be lacking and the report minces no words in criticising the “excessive” consumption of alcohol in the Number 10 complex workplace.
Number 10 and the heart of government have been found wanting, not meeting the standards they expected of people across the country. In other words whilst the rest of the country was observing lockdown Number 10 thought it fine to party. What makes matters worse is that the Prime Minister has said repeatedly in interviews and in the House of Commons (specifically on 8th December 2021) that there were no parties and that all guidance and rules had been followed.
Some think that will be the last that is heard of the report as the Met will bury it. But according to reports on Twitter this afternoon Commander Catherine Roper told reporters that the police have been given 500 pieces of paper with 300 photographs containing evidence of Partygate. So looks as if there is more to come.
Boris Johnson, of course, came out fighting in his statement to Parliament this afternoon. The session was rowdy. When SNP Westminster leader got to his feet he pulled no punches.
“It’s not my fault if the prime minister can’t be trusted to tell the truth” – Ian Blackford
The speaker did not approve of Ian Blackford calling the Prime Minister a liar or saying that he had misled Parliament. In Westminster telling the truth about a lie is apparently a greater crime than the lie itself.
Ian Blackford’s speech is well worth watching. The Westminster Parliament which likes to refer to itself as the Mother of Parliaments is no more than an anachronism, a vastly outdated, undemocratic structure that needs root and branch reform, but that is unlikely to happen under either Tory or Labour governments. Meanwhile Boris Johnson and his acolytes believe we need to move on from such irrelevances as our Prime Minister breaking the law. One person on Twitter queried where we were moving to. Complete lawlessness? Anarchy?