January 31, 2022 3.59 pm This story is over 29 months old

Boris Johnson apologises after Sue Gray Partygate investigation finds “serious failures”

Report found “failures of leadership and judgement”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised after a report into lockdown parties found “failures of leadership and judgement” at Number 10.

Giving a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: “I want to say sorry. I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way that this matter has been handled.

“It’s no use saying that this all was within the rules, and it’s no good saying that people were working hard.

“This pandemic was hard for everyone. We asked people across this country to make the most extraordinary sacrifices not to meet loved ones, not to visit relatives before they died, and I understand the anger that people feel.”

Sue Gray’s report into 16 separate gatherings across a 20 month period concluded there was “too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings”.

Mr Johnson has faced calls to rersign from opposition members, with Labour leader Kier Starmer accusing the PM of hiding behind the police investigation.

He said people felt “rage and even guilt” adding:  “People shouldn’t feel guilty, they should feel pride in themselves and the country.

“The prime minister has taken us all for fools.”

In response to the report, Mr Johnson announced the creation of a new Office of the Prime Minister, with a permanent secretary, in a bid to simplify the leadership structure.

He said a full review would be carried out and that more would be announced in the coming days.

“I get it and I will fix it,” he said.

“I want to say to the people of this country, I know what the issue is – whether this government can be trusted to deliver – and I say… yes, we can be trusted to deliver.”

He listed Brexit and the vaccine programme as successes of his government.

Gatherings are currently being probed by the Metropolitan Police, and the report notes Ms Gray was “extremely limited” in what she could say, adding it was “not possible at present to provide a meaningful report”.

However, the senior civil servant, who interviewed around 70 people in her investigation, said:

“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.”

In her report, she praised the country who “rose to the challenge” and said she was proud to be part of the national effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, as I have noted, a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did,” said her report.

“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.

“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,” she said.

“Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did,” she added.

The report also notes staff being unable to raise concerns and that leadership structures were “fragmented and complicated… this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability”.

She concluded that there was “significant learning” to be drawn which “must be addressed immediately”.