Civil service unions have called for names to be redacted from Sue Gray’s Partygate report as they warned that government employees must not be ‘hung out to dry’.
Garry Graham, the deputy general secretary of trade union Prospect, said he hopes civil servants are not going to be ‘collateral damage’ as a result of party attendees being identified.
An investigation by senior official Ms Gray was expected to be handed to Downing Street on Wednesday but reports suggested the final document was still being pored over overnight.
The permanent secretary of the government’s legal department, Susannah McGibbon, was understood to be in charge of a group of lawyers looking over the report for anything that might cause problems to arise in the police probe.
And the government’s chief people officer, Rupert McNeil, was reportedly being kept informed of any potential disciplinary measures for civil service staff.
The checks follow Labour leader Keir Starmer warning that anything less than a full publication of the report would constitute a ‘cover-up’.
Meanwhile, a Cabinet minister has suggested that Boris Johnson could still face MPs over a highly anticipated report into parties in No 10 before the week is out, as No 10 braces for the results of the investigation which could determine the PM’s future.
Garry Graham (pictured above), the deputy general secretary of Prospect – a trade union which represents workers in parliament – said he hopes the civil service is not going to be ‘collateral damage’ as a result of party attendees being identified
A report by senior official Sue Gray (above) was expected to be handed to Downing Street on Wednesday but reports suggested the final document was still being pored over overnight
Mr Graham, of Prospect, told The Telegraph: ‘We don’t want civil servants hung out to dry with regards to this.
‘If there are HR actions, then people need to be appropriately supported, including from their union.
‘I hope that the Civil Service is not going to be collateral damage as a result of this.’
One source also told the newspaper that the government needs to be prepared from a ‘legal point of view’ if people lose their jobs or are disciplined as a consequence.
Tory MPs have held off until the publication of the report to pass judgment on their leader over multiple alleged parties across No 10 and Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions.
It is not clear what the report has discovered but an indication of how damaging it could be for the Government came when Scotland Yard chief Dame Cressida Dick announced a police inquiry was being carried out, based in part on evidence obtained by the Gray investigation.
There was speculation that after the report was not delivered on Wednesday, MPs and the public may have to wait until after the weekend for its publication, as Mr Johnson had promised to address the Commons shortly after it was released.
There were suggestions that due to Thursday being Holocaust Memorial Day and many MPs being back in their constituencies from Thursday afternoon, No 10 may hold off on publishing the report once it was received.
However, Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the conclusions would be important enough to bring to the House straight away.
The permanent secretary of the government’s legal department, Susannah McGibbon (pictured right), was understood to be in charge of a group of lawyers looking over the report. And the government’s chief people officer, Rupert McNeil (left), was reportedly being kept informed of any potential disciplinary measures for civil service staff
The checks follow Labour leader Keir Starmer warning that anything less than a full publication of the report would constitute a ‘cover-up’
How (and when) WILL Sue Gray’s Partygate report be published?
Sue Gray’s long-awaited report is imminent – but there are still questions about the process for it being released.
The first stage is for the top civil servant to hand the report over to the PM.
That has yet to happen, with redrafting, final legal checks and proofreading believed to be the hold-up.
At that point Boris Johnson will get to read the document – although it is thought he will not be permitted to see evidence such as WhatsApps and emails that might put staff in a difficult position.
Mr Johnson has control of the timing of publication, although he will want it out as soon as possible.
He will need to decide on his response and write a statement.
No10 will need to get approval from Speaker Lindsay Hoyle for an emergency statement to Parliament, which is likely to happen several hours after the publication to avoid accusations of dodging scrutiny.
Downing Street has indicated that the report will be published in the form that Mr Johnson himself sees it.
He told the BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: ‘Well as Leader of the House, ministers bid via the leader’s office for statements, and it’s absolutely true that I have discouraged statements on Holocaust Memorial Day because there is a debate for that.
‘But this issue is of such importance that I think MPs would want to have a statement as soon as the report was available, and on days when the House is sitting MPs have a priority towards the House, even if they’ve got other arrangements first, the House comes first for Members of Parliament.’
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told ITV’s Peston: ‘I read it might be the end of the week, but as you say it could be early next week. Let’s wait and see.’
Mr Kwarteng also told the programme he was ‘100% behind the Prime Minister’, who he repeatedly noted was bound by the ministerial code.
Earlier, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested Mr Johnson had misled Parliament about Downing Street parties, something which would normally require a minister to resign.
Asked if he would quit, the Prime Minister said: ‘No.’
Mr Johnson replied: ‘Of course he wants me out of the way – he does, and of course I don’t deny, for all sorts of reasons, many people may want me out of the way.’
Mr Rees-Mogg said Mr Johnson would not have to step aside even if he was interviewed by police in their probe.
Speaking on Channel 4 News, Mr Rees-Mogg said ‘that wouldn’t be a resigning matter, because people are innocent in this country until proved guilty’.
But if the outcome of the Gray report is significantly damaging, Mr Johnson could face a revolt from his own MPs, who may choose to call a vote of no confidence.
Tories were also urging the PM to scrap a planned hike in national insurance to win back their support.
The Commons Treasury Committee has warned in a report released on Thursday that the rise in employer national insurance contributions would contribute to a rise in inflation.
Conservative MP for Bolton North East Mark Logan said that while Mr Johnson had his support, there needed to be a reset.
Meanwhile, a Cabinet minister has suggested that Boris Johnson could still face MPs over a highly anticipated report into parties in No 10 before the week is out, as No 10 braces for the results of the investigation which could determine the PM’s future
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the conclusions would be important enough to bring to the House straight away
He told Sky News: ‘There has to be a huge change. There has to be a change of heart with the Prime Minister, there has to be a change of approach and a whole change to the infrastructure around the Prime Minister.’
Mr Kwarteng meanwhile denied reports he was against the national insurance rise, as he told Peston: ‘We’ve had a settled Cabinet position.’
He added: ‘We’re all committed to the national insurance rise because that’s the best way… to fund the huge amounts of money that we need to make sure that we clear the backlog from the coronavirus in the NHS, and also, we can put our social care – health and social care – on a good footing.’
When the Gray report is published, sources close to the investigation team expect it to be published in full, although ultimately it is a matter for Mr Johnson to decide.
Downing Street said it is the ‘intention’ to publish the report in the format in which Mr Johnson receives it.
‘It is simply a reflection of the fact that we have not received the findings and don’t know its format, that’s why it remains our intention to publish it as received,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
Labour could use parliamentary procedures in an attempt to force the publication of the full Gray report if Mr Johnson does not release it.
That could take the form of a ‘humble address’, effectively a message to the Queen demanding the publication of papers.