The UK acquisition secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has repeatedly refused to accidental who organised a gathering betwixt Boris Johnson and apical civilian servant Sue Gray, arsenic Westminster awaits her study into lockdown parties successful Downing Street.
It has emerged that the brace met, with some sides – No 10 and Gray’s squad – denying they called the meeting.
Zahawi was asked repeatedly by Sophy Ridge connected Sky News connected Sunday who called for the meeting, and why; but helium insisted helium did not know.
“I don’t cognize the details of each the meetings that hap astatine No 10. What I bash cognize is that the premier curate has ne'er intervened successful the probe that Sue Gray has conducted. He’s ever wanted her to spell wherever the grounds takes her.”
Zahawi added: “I’ve worked with Sue Gray, I’ve known Sue Gray. I cognize she has the highest level of professionalism, and her integrity is unquestionable. She didn’t propulsion her punches successful her archetypal report.”
Pressed for further details of the gathering betwixt Gray and Johnson, Zahawi said: “Meetings hap each day; my diary’s afloat of meetings. You tin inquire maine a question, ‘who enactment this gathering successful my diary … it volition person gone successful my diary due to the fact that idiosyncratic successful my squad would person thought this is the close happening to do.”
Asked again connected BBC’s Sunday Morning astir the meeting, Zahawi said: “The premier curate meets his elder civilian servants each the time. [Gray’s] besides a elder civilian servant liable for levelling up.”
Acknowledging that Johnson is Gray’s eventual boss, helium again declined to accidental who had called the meeting, insisting: “I don’t judge that is worldly to the result of the investigation, due to the fact that Sue Gray is nonrecreational and has the highest level of integrity.”
Gray’s study is expected to beryllium published this week, and up to 30 officials person been warned that they could beryllium named directly, oregon beryllium easy identifiable. These individuals person been fixed until 5pm connected Sunday to respond.
These are expected to see the furniture secretary, Simon Case, the astir elder civilian servant, who is regarded arsenic a apt scapegoat contempt not receiving a fine.
Gray was appointed to instrumentality implicit the probe into parties past December from Case himself, aft helium was revealed to person hosted an lawsuit successful his ain office, for which invitations were sent retired saying “Christmas Party!”. A authorities spokesperson said astatine the clip that officials successful Case’s bureau took portion successful a “virtual quiz”.
Case had been expected to look earlier MPs connected the nationalist medication and law affairs committee connected Tuesday, but ministers unexpectedly cancelled the proceeding past week soon aft it was announced.
The Metropolitan constabulary revealed connected Thursday that they had completed their investigation into lockdown-busting gatherings successful Downing Street and Whitehall, levying 156 fines successful total, covering 8 abstracted dates.
The premier curate has received a azygous fixed-penalty notice, for the day enactment held successful the furniture country successful June 2020. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and Johnson’s woman Carrie Johnson, were besides fined for attending the aforesaid event.
Many civilian servants were astonished that the premier curate did not person further fines – peculiarly since helium is known to person attended immoderate of the events for which others are believed to person been fined.
Johnson is expected to springiness a connection successful parliament erstwhile Gray’s study is published. He volition past look an probe by the House of Commons privileges committee implicit whether helium misled parliament erstwhile the Partygate stories archetypal emerged, by insisting that “all guidance was followed” successful No 10.