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  /  News   /  : Here are the highlights from the Cabinet Office investigation into Downing Street parties by the Boris Johnson government

: Here are the highlights from the Cabinet Office investigation into Downing Street parties by the Boris Johnson government

It’s here, sort of.

An investigation led by civil servant Sue Gray into the partying carried out by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as his aides while COVID restrictions were in place found “a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time.”

Here are the highlights from what Gray herself calls a “limited” account, which also comes as the Metropolitan Police is carrying out a criminal investigation. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament he accepted the findings in full and would implement her recommendations. “I get it, and I will fix it,” said Johnson.

“i. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the Government was asking
citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour
surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify.

ii. At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to
observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of
Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population
at the time.

iii. At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening
across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these
gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear
to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts
of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should
not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been
allowed to develop as they did.

iv. The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional
workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every Government
Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of
alcohol in the workplace.

v. The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the
Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street.
During the pandemic it was often used as an extension of the workplace as a
more covid secure means of holding group meetings in a ventilated space. This
was a sensible measure that staff appreciated, but the garden was also used
for gatherings without clear authorisation or oversight. This was not
appropriate. Any official access to the space, including for meetings, should be
by invitation only and in a controlled environment.

vi. Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work
but at times felt unable to do so. No member of staff should feel unable to report
or challenge poor conduct where they witness it. There should be easier ways
for staff to raise such concerns informally, outside of the line management
chain.

vii. The number of staff working in No 10 Downing Street has steadily increased in
recent years. In terms of size, scale and range of responsibility it is now more
akin to a small Government Department than purely a dedicated Prime
Minister’s office. The structures that support the smooth operation of Downing
Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this
expansion. The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this
has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability. Too much
responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose principal
function is the direct support of the Prime Minister. This should be addressed
as a matter of priority.”

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