Boris Johnson has apologised again to MPs in the House of Commons for attending his birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020 that broke England’s COVID-19 rules. The Prime Minister was fined by the Metropolitan Police over the gathering, which has now been investigated in civil servant Sue Gray’s devastating report. Ms Gray covered a total of 16 parties that were thrown on Government property between May 2020 and April 2021, when much of the country was struggling with life under draconian Covid restrictions.
The Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister resigned over the Partygate scandal in February of this year and has since been replaced.
At the 2020 gathering, attended by around 40 staff, Mr Reynolds was pictured with the Prime Minister, his wife Carrie and his then-senior adviser, Dominic Cummings.
After the event, a special adviser thanked Mr Reynolds via email for organising the drinks in the garden.
In a subsequent Whatsapp message, Mr Reynolds told a special adviser: “Best of luck. A complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”
Mr Reynolds also told staff the event was a “bring your own booze” gathering, according to Ms Gray’s report.
Other subtle details of the report come in the conclusion in which the civil servant hints at “disciplinary action”.
So far, the main action taken over the parties has been the fines handed out by the Met Police, including those given to Mr Johnson, his wife and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak for attending the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday party on June 19.
In total, the Met has fined 83 individuals, with 28 people receiving between two and five fines.
But Ms Gray’s report appears to make reference to potential further punishments for those involved.
She writes: “The matter of what disciplinary action should now take place is outside of the scope of this report and is for others to consider.”
She adds: “While there is no excuse for some of the behaviour set out here it is important to acknowledge that those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organised.
“I have no doubt that they will have taken the learning from this experience and, while this is not a matter for me, I hope this will be taken into account in considering any disciplinary action.”
Speaking to MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions shortly after the report was published on Wednesday, Mr Johsnon said he took “full responsibility” for the scandal, and said he had been “humbled” by Ms Gray’s investigation.
He said he had “learned a lesson” and repeated his apology to the people of Britain, adding: “I also want to say above all that I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch.”