Sue Gray: Who is the Whitehall veteran tasked with investigating ‘Partygate'?

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Sue Gray: Who is the Whitehall veteran tasked with investigating ‘Partygate’?
© PA

Senior civil servant Sue Gray could publish the results of her investigation as soon as this week

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

– PA

Sue Gray, the senior civil servant handed responsibility for untangling a string of Downing Street parties that allegedly broke lockdown rules, has been placed in an “impossible position, with an impossible task,” Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has said.

Global Tech News Daily

Ms Gray, the second permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, was given the job of leading the inquiry into the scandal last month after cabinet secretary Simon Case recused himself when it emerged that a party had also been held within his own department.

Boris Johnson and his Cabinet have since declined to answer questions about any allegations of rule-breaking and have instead been calling for Ms Gray to be allowed to collect the facts and complete her inquiry in peace before her findings are published in a report.

Global Tech News Daily

“Sue Gray is acting independently, she is leading this piece of work,” Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson has insisted, sailing past the inconvenient truth that she must ultimately report to Michael Gove.

“Under the terms of reference she is able to speak to who she wishes and investigate as she sees fit to ascertain the facts.”

She has, reportedly, already used that freedom to speak to Mr Johnson.

But her assignment seems to get more complicated by the day as more and more revelations continue to come to light on the front pages of Britain’s newspapers, carrying sordid tales of staffers being sent out to Co-op to fill suitcases with bottles of wine and drunken revellers staggering out into the garden of the prime minister’s official residence and breaking his infant son’s swing set.

At the outset, Mr Johnson was not thought to have been in attendance at any of the “gatherings” in question but now we know, by his own admission, that he was at the 20 May 2020 garden party, even if he did “implicitly believe it was a work event”.

So not only is establishing the precise narrative of what went on when and who knew about it tricky enough, the veteran inquisitor also faces the prospect of incurring further anger from voters if she is ultimately deemed to have been too lenient and carried out a “whitewash” on Mr Johnson’s behalf.

Equally, delivering a damning verdict would mean overtly criticising the moral conduct of senior ministers and civil service colleagues with whom she has long worked and may retain friendly personal ties.

As such, she is widely expected to err on the side of caution and conclude that poor judgement was evident in abundance but that nothing criminal took place, keenly aware that it is beyond her remit to recommend the resignation of a British prime minister.

Sir David Normington, a former Whitehall permanent secretary, summed up the complexity of her situation when he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week: “She will be very aware that she has the reputation and possibly the careers of senior civil servants and possibly of the prime minister in her hands, and that is a very difficult position to be in, however fair and fearless and rigorous you are.”

But, by all accounts, if anyone can walk that tightrope, it is Ms Gray, nicknamed “the woman who runs the country” and “deputy God” by MPs Oliver Letwin and Paul Flynn respectively.

“Sue has been there for so long, she knows everything that anybody has ever done wrong,” ex-Cabinet Office special adviser Polly Mackenzie told the BBC’s Profile programme in 2017.

Enjoying a reputation for diligence, Ms Gray is also so discreet that even her own precise age is disputed.

She is either 63 or 64, did not attend university and has served in the civil service since the late 1970s, barring a career break during the 1980s when she abandoned Westminster to run a pub called The Cove Bar in Newry, Northern Ireland, with her husband, a country singer named Bill Conlon.

“If a pub landlady doesn’t know what a party is, who will?” a rather wry family friend told The Daily Mail’s Michael Crick recently.

According to her biography on the government website, she has worked in the departments of transport, health and work and pensions “covering a range of roles which included both policy and front line delivery”.

Subsequently joining the Cabinet Office in the late 1990s, Ms Gray eventually became director general of propriety and ethics from 2012 to 2018.

It was in that guise that she carried out a number of high-profile inquiries into the likes of defence secretary Liam Fox, ex-chief whip Andrew Mitchell over “plebgate”, and Damian Green, Theresa May’s de facto deputy prime minister, who was dismissed after he was found to have been “misleading” in a statement made to police regarding pornography on his office computer in 2008.

As The Independent’s Sean O’Grady writes, Mr Mitchell has since been highly complimentary about his one-time interrogator, commenting: “I have always found her to be extremely straightforward, very easy to deal with; she’s got a great sense of humour and she is clear-cut and doesn’t shilly-shally around.”

It was also in relation to this period as ethics chief that the former BBC Newsnight journalist Chris Cook complained that Ms Gray was “notorious for her determination not to leave a document trail” and had assisted departments to “fight disclosures” in the shape of freedom of information requests.

“If the government feels it has to get rid of a minister, she will give them cover to do that. If a government really wants to keep someone, she’ll find a way to do that,” he said.

She served as permanent secretary to the Northern Irish executive’s department of finance on secondment from the Cabinet Office between 2018 and 2021 before returning to occupy her present role last May, reportedly frustrated to miss out on the top job in the Northern Irish civil service and speculating to the BBC: “Perhaps I was too much of a challenger, or a disrupter.”

Many will be willing her to show some of that same spirit as she rattles out her Partygate dossier this week.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

News Related


New York Rangers get another comeback win to force Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH — How many times can the New York Rangers dig themselves into a hole and climb back out? At least one more, as of Friday night. The Blueshirts came ... Read more »

Wilson, balanced Aces cruise to 96-73 victory over Dream

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) — A’ja Wilson scored 15 points, Kelsey Plum had 14 points and 11 assists and the Las Vegas Aces rolled to a 96-73 victory over the ... Read more »

EXPLAINER: Why frustration lingers in Okinawa 50 years later

The Associated PressFILE – U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mike Anglen of Turner, Ore., center, stands atop a cliff as Sgt. Bryan Wallace of Pikin, Ill., waits for his turn before ... Read more »

Astros beat Nationals 6-1 for 11th straight victory

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep and the Houston Astros extended their winning streak to ... Read more »

Kreider scores late, Rangers edge Pens 5-3 to force Game 7

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kreider’s long slap shot bounced over Louis Domingue and into the net with 1:28 left and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on ... Read more »

Astros push winning streak to 11, roll past Nationals 6-1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, and Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep to help the Houston Astros extend their winning ... Read more »

Moustakas, Drury power Reds to 8-2 victory over Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice and Brandon Drury drove in four runs to break out of a slump and lead the resurgent Cincinnati Reds to an 8-2 victory ... Read more »

Peterson's bases-loaded walk lifts Brewers over Marlins 2-1

MIAMI (AP) — Jace Peterson walked against Anthony Bender with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 Friday night. After starters ... Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during manager Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Ogunbowale, Gray help Wings rally past Mystics, 94-86

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, Allisha Gray had 21 and the Dallas Wings overcame a 15-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Washington Mystics 94-86 on Friday night. ... Read more »

Resigning North Dakota senator led lawmakers in travel costs

The Associated PressFILE – North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg listens during a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meeting at the Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Jan. 7, 2009. Holmberg, ... Read more »

Residents in picturesque California county hit with gas prices topping $7 a gallon

A California county known for its spectacular mountains and proximity to Yosemite National Park has been paying the nation’s highest gas prices. Read more »

Boudreau to return as coach of Canucks next season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bruce Boudreau will return as coach of the Vancouver Canucks next season after helping to turn the struggling NHL club around as a midyear replacement. ... Read more »

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

On Location: May 13, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tested positive for COVID-19 ... Read more »

Today in History for May 14th

Highlights of this day in history: Colonists go ashore in Virginia to set up Jamestown; Lewis and Clark begin to explore Louisiana Territory; Israel founded; Skylab launched; Movie producer George ... Read more »

Twitter CEO expects Elon Musk acquisition to close, addresses spending cuts

Musk is awaiting details supporting calculations that spam, fake accounts represent less than 5% of Twitter's users Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Renovated NYC museum shows indigenous perspectives

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City recently finished a major renovation of its exhibition on the native peoples of the northwest coast of North America. Curators ... Read more »

Police release 911 calls in Gilgo Beach case

A woman who disappeared in a beach community on New York’s Long Island more than a decade ago, sparking an investigation into a possible serial killer, said “there’s somebody after ... Read more »

Academy Awards set 2023 Oscars for March 12

The Associated PressFILE – Oscar statue on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Next year’s Academy Awards will ... Read more »

Actor Fred Ward, of 'Tremors,' 'The Right Stuff' fame, dies

The Associated PressFILE – Fred Ward, a cast member in “30 Minutes or Less,” poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2011. Ward, a ... Read more »

Judge refuses to drop elections suit against Trump, media

NEW YORK — A Colorado judge on Friday denied motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by an election systems worker against former President Donald Trump’s campaign, two of its ... Read more »

Q&A: Becky G unveils every side of herself in latest album

The Associated PressFILE – Becky G appears at the Oscars in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Beck G’s latest album is “Esquemas.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) NEW YORK ... Read more »

North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak. Read more »

North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says 21 people died and 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread ... Read more »

White Sox place Giolito on COVID list, activate Vaughn

The Chicago White Sox placed ace Lucas Giolito on the COVID-19 injured list and activated outfielder Andrew Vaughn following a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. Giolito began experiencing ... Read more »

Traded back and forth, Ford learns to live out of suitcase

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Ford has learned to travel light — and quickly. Since the start of the season, the 29-year-old first baseman has played for Tacoma, San Francisco ... Read more »

Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from California on Friday. (May 13) Read more »

Celtics' Robert Williams remains out for Game 6 vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Boston forward/center Robert Williams missed his third straight game with an injured left knee as the Celtics tried to keep their season alive Friday night in Game ... Read more »

Padres sign Robinson Canó, plan to use him off the bench

ATLANTA (AP) — The San Diego Padres have signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a major league contract and plan to use him as a left-handed bat off the ... Read more »

WNBA star's Russia detention extended by 1 month

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner says her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month. Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press the relatively short extension indicated ... Read more »

Louisiana justices toss COVID-related charges against pastor

Hundreds of thousands of Americans fighting long-haul symptoms from COVID-19 Dr. David Putrino from Mount Sinai Health System and COVID long-hauler Joel Fram discuss the long-term effects of the disease.The ... Read more »

Sandy Hook lawsuits against Alex Jones on track to resume

The Associated PressFILE – This Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, photo shows radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at Capitol Hill in Washington. The Sandy Hook families’ lawsuits against ... Read more »

Rockies' Bryant closer to return after cortisone shot

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant took swings in the cage Friday for the first time since he was sidelined with a sore back nearly three weeks ago ... Read more »

Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic to minors after poor start

NEW YORK (AP) — Rather than make his Citi Field debut against the team that traded him, Jarred Kelenic was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners on Friday ... Read more »

Biden: ASEAN partnership 'critical' in this moment

Looking to strengthen ties, President Joe Biden welcomes leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Washington for the first time. “We’re launching a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations,” ... Read more »

Phil Mickelson will not defend his title at next week's PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson caught lightning in a bottle last year at Kiawah Island, winning a major championship at 50 years of age. The fairways flooded, and the golf world stood and ... Read more »

Tennessee Titans' Malik Willis on Ryan Tannehill's mentorship comments: 'Everything is cool'

The Tennessee Titans didn’t take issue with Ryan Tannehill’s comments about mentoring third-round rookie Malik Willis. Willis and coach Mike Vrabel were asked about Tannehill’s scrutinized remarks following the first ... Read more »

Lawyers plan suit against Lufthansa over Jewish passengers

Lawyers for 26 passengers said Friday they told Lufthansa that they will sue the German airline for refusing to let members of a large group of Orthodox Jewish passengers board ... Read more »

Wild face offseason after yet another early ouster

While the Minnesota Wild were stacking up franchise records and securing the extra home game for the first round, general manager Bill Guerin carefully acknowledged a “great year” for the ... Read more »