Who is Sue Gray? Civil servant investigating Downing Street parties
The investigation into alleged Downing Street parties at the height of Covid restrictions has now hit 12 gatherings in total.
So-called “partygate” is a string of allegations around lockdown-busting gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall during 2020.
The independent investigation is being led by Sue Gray, a Cabinet Office official - it will include the alleged 'Bring Your Own Booze' event on May 20, 2020, and alleged garden gathering five days earlier.
Ms Gray replaced Cabinet Secretary Simon Case in leading the Whitehall investigation after allegations emerged of an event taking place within his own office.
But who is Sue Gray? Here's what we know about the senior civil servant.
All you need to know about Sue Gray
Sue Gray returned to the Cabinet Office to take up the role of Second Permanent Secretary in May 2021 - responsible for the Union and Constitution Directorate.
Her previous role was the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance, Northern Ireland Executive on secondment from the Cabinet Office, from 2018 to 2021.
Sue served as the Director-General, Propriety and Ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2012 to 2018.
Sue first joined the Cabinet Office in the late 1990s.
Before joining the Cabinet Office, Sue worked in Transport, Health and DWP covering a range of roles which included both policy and front line delivery.
Sue also took a career break in the late 1980s when she bought and ran a pub in Newry, Northern Ireland.
As Second Permanent Secretary to Cabinet Office, the civil servant also dealt with the Grenfell Tower and Infected Blood Independent Public Inquiries.
This is because the Second Permanent Secretary is the sponsor for both inquiries.
MPs have questioned whether Sue Gray, a senior civil servant in the Cabinet Office, was best placed to investigate allegations of No 10 lockdown parties when her “line manager”, the head of the Civil Service, Simon Case, has been embroiled in claims his own department held gatherings.
Lord Evans of Weardale, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, responded in front of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
In the session, Lord Evans backed Ms Gray - whose remit also covers the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - to report back “without fear or favour”.
“I can see the wiring point you refer to,” he said.
“However, given the personality and experience of Sue Gray, I have no doubt that she will follow the facts and come forward with her recommendations without fear or favour.”
Are the police involved in the Government's party investigation?
Following political calls for officers to investigate allegations relating to May 2020, the Metropolitan Police confirmed it is liaising with the Whitehall department over the latest party claims.
What has No 10 said about the Downing Street party allegations?
Police are in contact with the Cabinet Office over claims the Prime Minister’s aide organised a “bring your own booze” Downing Street drinks party during the first lockdown.
No 10 said it would not be commenting on the allegations while Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, carries out her inquiry into numerous allegations of rule-breaking events being held in Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic.
Health minister Ed Argar told BBC Breakfast: “I can entirely understand why people who’ve lost loved ones, or people who’ve just had their lives hugely disrupted by these restrictions, are angry and upset by these allegations.
“That’s why it’s right that [Sue Gray] is looking into the facts and will report, and she can go with this investigation where she needs to, without fear or favour.
“I hope that she will report swiftly, and depending on what she finds in that investigation – if people are found to have broken the rules in that context, it’s right that appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”