The inquiry into Downing Street parties could be shared with Boris Johnson as soon as this weekend as cross-party demands mount for the report to be published in its entirety after an intervention by Scotland Yard.
The timeline for the publication of the long-awaited report by the senior civil servant Sue Gray on alleged lockdown breaches at Downing Street and Whitehall was thrown into question this week when the Metropolitan police announced on Tuesday that a criminal investigation had been launched.
Scotland Yard provoked outrage by demanding that references to matters it was examining be removed from the report. MPs labelled the force, which is investigating possible breaches punishable by fixed-penalty notices, “a broken organisation”.
The Met’s intervention has been met with a torrent of criticism, with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party calling for full transparency over the Gray report.
Sir Christopher Chope, the Conservative MP for Christchurch, on Saturday became the latest figure to join demands for the report’s publication, accusing the Met of an “abuse of power”.
Government sources said on Friday night that Gray’s team had decided to send a redacted version of the report to No 10.
There were also new claims late on Friday that the prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, allegedly sent messages to No 10 staff offering to bring a cake to a June 2020 gathering. The Telegraph reported that the inquiry was told she asked a government official to gather staff together to celebrate the prime minister’s 56th birthday, adding that she would organise the cake.
Chope told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday: “I don’t think it’s any of their business. This is a Cabinet Office inquiry and the findings have been concluded, and they’ve been shared – I don’t know why – with the Metropolitan police. Now the Metropolitan police seem to be interfering both in the content of the report and trying to prevent it being published in an unredacted form.”
He said matters would have been different if criminal charges had been imminent, in which case the matter would have been sub judice and barred from discussion in the Commons. “Under the rules of law which apply in our country, this is not sub judice … that’s why I think this is an abuse of power by the Metropolitan police,” he said.
Adam Holloway, the Tory MP for Gravesham, also called for Gray’s report to be published in its entirety. “The fact is we’re not getting a full and rounded view from what we’re getting from the media, and that’s why I – and probably Boris too – would like to see the whole of Sue Gray’s report, and as soon as possible, so we can end this madness,” he said.
Holloway defended Johnson, describing him as “a really remarkable guy who got an 80-seat majority”. He said he “believed him when he said he didn’t know it was a party”.
Commander Catherine Roper, the head of the Met’s central specialist crime command, said the timing of the document’s release was up to the Cabinet Office. She defended the force’s request for Gray to limit her report, saying it was a means of protecting “the integrity of the police investigation” in order to be “as fair as possible to those who are subject to it”.