May 25, 2022 - World

Report: "Senior leadership" responsible for Boris Johnson lockdown parties

A photo showing Boris Johnson from Sue Gray's report
A photo from senior civil servant Sue Gray's report shows Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and chancellor Rishi Sunak at a gathering in 10 Downing Street in June 2020. Other attendants are blurred out. Photo: Sue Gray Report/U.K. Civil Service

The long-awaited final report into lockdown parties at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official London residence and government offices in Whitehall was published on Wednesday morning.

Driving the news: The report by senior civil servant Sue Gray builds on earlier findings in her interim investigation of a "serious failure" to observe the standards expected of government officials and features several photos of Johnson surrounded by alcohol, including one where he's raising a glass at his birthday party.

  • Gray notes in the final report that 83 people violated lockdown rules at parties, where some staff "staff drank excessively" and damaged property.
  • There were "multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff" during the parties, according to the report.

By the numbers: Gray examined 16 events held between May 2020 and April 2021 as part of her investigation.

What he's saying: Johnson again apologized in the United Kingdom's Parliament "for the short lunchtime gathering" he attended, for which he was fined, and took "full responsibility" for the events that "took place on my watch."

  • Johnson said he had "briefly attended" other events to thank staff for "working long hours" during the pandemic, action that he described as "an important element of leadership," but stressed that he "simply wasn't there" on some of the occasions.
  • "I was appalled at some of the behavior, particularly in the treatment of security and cleaning staff," he added.

Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer promised to resign if he is fined for breaking COVID restrictions last year.

  • Police in Durham, England, are investigating Starmer over allegations that he broke the rules during a campaign event where a meal was served.

The bottom line: "The senior leadership at the center, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture," Gray said of the parties at Whitehall and Johnson's 10 Downing street residence.

  • "Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government," Gray wrote.
  • "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."

Read the report in full, via DocumentCloud:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper