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Partygate: Boris Johnson says he’s ‘absolutely not’ delaying release of Sue Gray report

Boris Johnson has said he is “absolutely not” delaying the release of a much-anticipated report into lockdown parties at Downing Street and Whitehall – and promised it would be released in full.

The report, which is being compiled by senior civil servant Sue Gray, has yet to be received by Number 10

Asked during a visit to North Wales whether he is planning to delay the release of the report, the prime minister said: “Absolutely not.

“But you’ve got to let independent inquiry go on.”

Row over how much of Sue Gray report is made public; ‘Save Boris WhatsApp group’ launched – politics live updates

Asked about whether he would publish the report in full, Mr Johnson said “of course”.

He added: “I can’t go beyond what I said yesterday, but I stick to what I said to the House of Commons.”

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The prime minister has vowed to make a statement and answer questions in the House of Commons after the Gray report has been made public

Uncertainty regarding how much of Gray report will be published

Yesterday, Mr Johnson failed to explicitly commit to publishing the full report once the findings of inquiry are finally received by Downing Street.

Asked at PMQs by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer if he will release the entirety of Ms Gray’s report, the prime minister replied: “We’ve got to leave the report to the independent investigator, as he knows, of course when I receive it, of course, I will do exactly what I said.”

Sir Keir said anything other than the document being published “in full” would amount to a “cover up”.

Read more: What could Sue Gray’s inquiry into No 10 parties mean for PM and who decides what happens next?

Meanwhile, the PM’s spokesman said this week: “The findings will be made public in line with the terms of reference. It is our intention to publish those findings as received.”

Pressed on why full publication was not guaranteed, the spokesman said: “It is simply a reflection of the fact that we have not received the findings and don’t know its format, that’s why it remains our intention to publish it as received.”

Undated handout photo issued by GOV.UK of Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who will take over from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case who has "recused himself" from leading an investigation into lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall, following allegations of gatherings in his own department. Issue date: Issue date: Friday December 17, 2021.
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Sue Gray has carried out an investigation into lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street and across Whitehall

Labour call for report to be released ‘in full’

Sky News understands Ms Gray wants the report to be published in full and it will cover all the alleged events, not just those the police are not investigating.

It is believed the Labour Party could try and use parliamentary procedures to try and force the publication of the document in full if the government choose not to do so.

Such an attempt could take the form of a “humble address”, effectively a message to the Queen demanding the publication of papers.

Read more: Which lockdown parties is Sue Gray investigating, and what has Downing Street said about them?

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the government would release the “findings” from the Cabinet Office inquiry.

She said there could be “security issues” which mean parts of it are “problematic to publish”.

Along with questions regarding just how much of Ms Gray’s work will be made publicly available, there is also speculation around the timing of the report’s publication.

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It was thought Sue Gray’s report into the alleged lockdown is being reviewed by lawyers

Report being checked by ‘lawyers, HR and the Met’

It is believed the delay in publishing the report is in part due to Ms Gray wanting to run the report past lawyers, HR and the Metropolitan Police to make sure the document can be published in full.

It was thought that on Wednesday a delicate checking process was being carried out to ensure a duty of care was being given to Downing Street staff who may be implicated in the report.

The prime minister has vowed to make a statement and answer questions in the House of Commons once the long-awaited Gray report has eventually been made public

Explainer: Who is party investigator Sue Gray?

Suggestions that this could happen on Wednesday afternoon were dealt a blow after the Commons adjourned almost three hours early, before 5pm.

And the hopes of MPs being able to consider the report today are dwindling with the Commons due to conclude its business around 5pm.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Met Police investigation of alleged Number 10 parties is ‘the worst possible outcome’ for the prime minister

Met Police launch criminal investigation

The announcement by Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick that her force was investigating “a number of events” for potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations has placed more pressure on the PM over partygate.

Mr Johnson’s leadership has come under severe pressure amid the ongoing scandal and he could face a vote of no confidence if more than 54 Conservative MPs submit letters to the 1922 Committee of backbenchers.

Analysis: Which Number 10 staff could lose their jobs as a result of partygate

Mr Johnson has welcomed the probe and said it would “help draw a line under matters”.

Downing Street has said the PM is willing to be interviewed by police but does not believe he has broken the law.

Sky News understands the Met Police investigation will take “weeks, not days”.

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