What Sue Gray’s report found *actually* happened at all the No10 lockdown gatherings

One event went on until 3am and someone was sick

Sue Gray’s report into the alleged government lockdown gatherings has been released. One involved pizza and Prosecco, excessive drinking in which one person was sick, and a “minor altercation” between two people. Another saw someone leave after 4am, music played from a laptop and people damaging a child’s slide by playing on it in the No10 garden.

It found “failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 and the Cabinet Office”, and said “many of these events should not have been allowed to happen”. It said many of the events were not in line with Covid guidance.

The report was completely separate to the police investigation, but the Met Police issued 126 fines to 83 individuals, for events on eight of these dates. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were amongst those who received a fixed penalty notice (FPN). The Met said four gatherings did not reach the threshold for criminal investigation – these have been highlighted.

There have been changes made at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office since, including staff. Boris Johnson apologised for the gathering he was fined for, said it’s appropriate to thank people at leaving dos and his attendance at these events has been found to be acceptable. But he said he was “appalled” at some of what he had learned from the report.

Here’s what Sue Gray found actually happened at all the government lockdown gatherings:

15th May 2020 – groups gather in the No10 garden, where Boris brought cheese and wine

A number of people gathered in groups in the No10 Downing Street garden. In the largest group was then-health secretary Matt Hancock, along with officials and advisors from No10 and the Department of Health and Social Care. There was wine and some drank alcohol.

Another group had Boris Johnson, his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, senior advisor Dominic Cummings, and (briefly) Boris’ wife Carrie. They were sat at a table, continuing a meeting that had originally started in Boris’ office. Boris brought cheese and wine from his flat.

The Met Police said this gathering “did not reach the threshold for criminal investigation”, according to the report.

20th May 2020 – ‘bring your own booze’ gathering to ‘boost staff morale’

On 20th May, there was a gathering in the No10 garden, which was meant to “boost staff morale” following a “difficult period”. No10 staff and others within the cabinet office were invited.

The event had been planned in advance, and “some concerns were expressed about whether it was appropriate to hold the event.” There were 30-40 people, including Boris Johnson for “around 30 minutes to thank staff”. Drinks and pizza were provided and paid for by staff.

A week before this, a No10 official had sent an email saying: “It’s meant to be nice weather next week so shall we try to do a socially distanced drinks in the garden on Wednesday or Thursday?”

An official then contacted the internal events team to book the No10 garden and said “[two No10 officials] will go out and get the booze”. A member of the internal events team replied the next day saying “sounds like lots of fun … that’s fine”. It also reminded them there would be a press conference, so to be “courteous with sound from 4-6pm”.

On the day of the gathering, an email invitation sent to around 200 Downing Street staff said: “After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of this lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the garden this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

18th June 2020 – Prosecco and a ‘minor altercation’ at a leaving do

The first part of this gathering, a leaving do for a No10 official, was approximately an hour long in No10’s Cabinet Room, with 25 people including Dominic Cummings. It involved alcohol and leaving speeches.

This was followed by a second part, in the Cabinet Secretary’s rooms, with alcohol, food and music. Some brought pizza and Prosecco.

The event lasted for a number of hours. There was “excessive alcohol consumption”, one person was sick, and there was “a minor altercation between two other individuals.” The last member of staff left at 3am after staying to clean.

Invitations had been sent about a week before, from the official to the private secretaries. Martin Reynolds and Lee Cain, No10 Director of Communications, had a WhatsApp conversation about this, in which Cain said: “I’m not sure it works at all to be honest, which would be a shame. I don’t see how we can have some kind of party though”.

In an email prior to the gathering, another official called it “drinks which aren’t drinks”.

19th June 2020  – cake and drinks on Boris Johnson’s birthday

On Boris Johnson’s birthday, there was a 20-30 minute gathering in the Cabinet Room of No10 Downing Street.

19th June 2020, via UK Government

Food, alcohol and soft drinks were provided and had been organised that morning. A text from a No10 special advisor said they had “organised some sandwiches and cake” and invited people to “pop in and wish [Boris] a harry birthday”.

Boris Johnson was reportedly not aware of this event in advance and returned from an external visit, to the room which had been set up with sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks and cans of beer.

19th June 2020, via UK Government

19th June 2020, via UK Government

Boris, his wife Carrie, and Rishi Sunak all received fixed penalty notices in April this year for attending this gathering. Johnson was found to have broken the law, but he will not have a criminal record, as he has as paid the FPN of £50.

FPNs can range from £30 to £10,000 – many uni students were fined thousands for lockdown gatherings. Boris Johnson gave a “full apology” and said it didn’t occur to him it may have been a breach of the rules, but accepted “the police have found otherwise” and “respects” the investigation’s outcome.

19th June 2020, via UK Government

13th November 2020 – leaving do with wine

On 13th November it was announced senior advisors Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain were leaving government. Later that day there was a leaving speech and drinks in No10 for Lee Cain, which Boris Johnson attended.

Press office staff and media special advisors gathered in No10’s Press Office. This was not pre-planned, but did occur “at around the time that ‘Wine Time Friday’ would normally be taking place”. Wine was provided and attendees including Boris were drinking.

13th November 2020, via UK Government

13th November 2020, via UK Government

13th November 2020, via UK Government

13th November 2020, via UK Government

13th November 2020, via UK Government

13th November 2020 – gathering in No10 flat

There was a meeting of five special advisors in the No10 flat to discuss how the departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain would be handled. Boris Johnson joined them about two hours later, at 8pm, and food and alcohol were available.

There have been press reports that ABBA songs including The Winner Takes It All were heard “booming through the building”, according to the Independent.

Sue Gray stopped investigating this gathering when the Met announced its own investigations. Following the Met’s announcement she considered whether to further investigate but “concluded it was not appropriate or proportionate to do so.”

27th November 2020 – leaving do in No10

A number of people including senior officials and special advisors gathered in the No10 Press Office to say goodbye to a special advisor who was leaving government. Boris Johnson was also there for a short time, and made a leaving speech.

The report says this appears to have been an “impromptu gathering”. There were 15-20 people there and some drank alcohol.

The Met Police said this gathering “did not reach the threshold for criminal investigation”, according to the report.

10th December 2020 – Department for Education ‘festive drinks’

There was a gathering in the Department for Education, with food and alcohol, that lasted about an hour. Among the 20-30 people in attendance were senior officials and special advisors.

Government guidance issued on 30th November said: “You must not have a work Christmas lunch or party where that is a primarily social activity”.

Three days before the event, an email invited around 50 people to “‘socially distanced’ festive drinks”. Staff were asked to bring their own refreshments. At the event was wine – some of which had been provided by the education secretary and his private office, along with some mince pies. The secretary thanked staff and left shortly after.

The Met Police said this gathering “did not reach the threshold for criminal investigation”, according to the report.

15th December 2020 – No10 Christmas quiz

There was a virtual quiz for No10 staff, who attended in both Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, as well as virtually from home. There was alcohol and food, supplied by the staff. The quiz (and its “prize-giving”) lasted three and a half hours.

An email sent to No10 staff that week said: “The Quiz will take place on Tuesday 15th at 1800-2000… We need to be mindful of Hands-Face-Space!” It asked people to not come into the office for the quiz if they were not already due to be in that day, and laid out some social distancing measures.

Boris Johnson joined for 12 minutes to read out the questions for one of the rounds.

Attendees bought food and alcohol on behalf of their teams. Quiz team names included: Professor Quiz Whitty; Hands, Face, First Place; and The Six Masketeers.

The Met Police said this gathering “did not reach the threshold for criminal investigation”, according to the report.

17th December 2020 – Cabinet Office Christmas quiz

There was another Christmas quiz, this time in the Cabinet Secretary’s private office, for staff who were in the office as well as those working from home. There was alcohol and food at the “virtual Christmas party”.

The quiz took about an hour, followed by a half-hour online game of Articulate.

There were approximately five people in the office. The Cabinet Secretary wasn’t present, but before leaving the building stopped to speak to members of his private office for 15 minutes. He had a beer and the private office team stayed in the office finishing drinks and snacks.

17th December 2020 – leaving do for two officials

20 people went to a leaving event for two No10 Officials who were leaving. It began as a work-related meeting but about an hour later leaving speeches began for the two leaving officials. About five bottles of wine were provided.

There were leaving speeches, including from Boris Johnson and senior officials. Boris was there for about 15 minutes.

17th December 2020 – leaving do for another two officials

On the same day there was a leaving event for a Director General of the Covid task force, as well as a No10 official, in the Cabinet Office.

Amongst the 20-30 people attending were senior officials from No10 and the Cabinet Office. The day before the event, an official sent an email invitation for “farewell drinks”, and asked people to not travel into London if they wouldn’t have been in the office anyway.

There was food and drink, including crisps, beer and Prosecco, bought by those who attended. There was background music, played through a phone, and leaving speeches.

There had been the intention to follow social distancing with a one-way system, amongst other measures, but Sue Gray’s report notes “this did not happen”.

It began between 7-8pm. By 10.30pm there were 6-8 people left and someone ordered six pizzas for the group. It ended before 11.30 but some stayed for longer to tidy up. A few people stayed after this, joining with other Cabinet Office staff, apparently with the intention of joining the other leaving event for No 10 officials.

18th December 2020 – ‘cheese, lots of wine’ and Secret Santa

There was a several-hours-long gathering at No10, where 20-45 people attended over the evening to celebrate the end of the year. There was alcohol and food, a Secret Santa and “awards ceremony”.

About three weeks before, a message on a No10 staff WhatsApp group asked who wanted to participate in an office Secret Santa, with a £10 spending limit. A further message said: “We will do gift exchange and cheese and (lots of) wine on 18th Dec”.

Messages on a WhatsApp group chat organised who would bring which type of cheese, whilst another group chat had messages suggesting everyone contribute £5 to buy a fridge for the office.

On the day of the cheese and wine night, a message on yet another WhatsApp group laid out the plan for the evening: at 4.30pm people would put out “cheese and Christmas treats”; at 5pm they would “kick off” the Secret Santa present exchange; then give out a quiz and do “the weather game”. Then there would be “a jokey highlights and low-lights of the year speech”.

Some staff “drank excessively” the report says, and the event was crowded and noisy to the point people working elsewhere in No10 heard it. A number of staff stayed until after midnight, and a cleaner the next day said there was red wine spilled on a wall.

14th January 2021 – leaving do at No10 for two officials

January 2021 saw the third national lockdown. On the 14th there was a leaving event in No10 for two leaving officials. Boris Johnson was there for a short time to give a speech, and there was alcohol available. About 15 people were there in person, with 30 virtual.

16th April 2021 – two separate leaving dos for different No10 officials

There were two separate leaving events in No10, for two different officials. Both of these events had alcohol provided and speeches.

One of the events had been organised on the day and had 15-20 people. There was wine, “excessive drinking”, and music played from a laptop. The other had been prepared for in advance and had about 45 people attending with a few online. There was wine and beer.

There was some mingling between the two and both groups joined in the No10 garden that evening. Senior officials were there, but Boris wasn’t in residence. In the garden, a number of people damaged a child’s swing/slide by leaning on and playing with it.

A number of people remained in the building drinking until after midnight, with the last person leaving at 4.20am.

Featured image (before edits) and all images via Sue Gray’s “alleged gatherings on government premises during Covid restrictions” report

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