A senior No10 official was given early sight of parts of Sue Gray’s report in lockdown parties, Downing Street has confirmed.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted no part of the scathing Partygate dossier had been changed by No10 but admitted that excerpts where shared with a staffer in charge of welfare, likely on Tuesday.
Asked if there was any interaction between No10 and Sue Gray’s team about what should be in the report, the PM’s spokesman said: “Not to my understanding.
“The PM and his political team saw the report for the first time on Wednesday morning when you saw the confirmation from the Cabinet Office that it had been submitted.
“One senior No10 official did have prior sight of elements of the report as part of their responsibilities relating to staff welfare.
“But for the avoidance of doubt, no part of the report has been changed by No10.”
The PM’s spokesman said he was unaware if the official had any conversations with staff about the contents of the report.
It comes amid fresh questions about Ms Gray’s report after it emerged she abandoned her investigation into an “Abba party” in the Downing Street flat.
Ms Gray said she judged it was not “appropriate or proportionate” to continue the “limited” progress she had made examining the event after the Metropolitan Police launched its investigation
No10 was unable to say if Carrie Johnson had prior sight of the part of the report that relate to the gathering in the No11 flat but defended her presence as she lives there.
The spokesman was also unable to say if any minutes were taken at the gathering.
Asked if there was any communication with Sue Gray’s team and No10 staff about the contents of the report he replied: “Not to my understanding”.
It came as the PM’s official spokesman apologised for repeatedly making false claims to journalists about parties while No10 tried to brazen out the initial revelations.
Saying there were failings in how the saga was handled he added: “The PM has apologised for that and I’m happy to apologise for that as well.”
But he refused to say if anyone will be disciplined and said the public will not be informed if anyone is disciplined in future, even anonymously.
“As standard practice we don’t confirm when individuals are disciplined – that’s an internal civil service process,” he said.
The spokesman refused to say if he attended any parties, saying: “I’m here to answer questions on behalf of the Prime Minister – I’m not here to talk about myself as an individual.”
Asked if the Prime Minister lied to him, the spokesman said: “No, the PM has set out his position on this very clearly.”
The spokesman refused to say if he had offered his resignation, telling journalists: “I’m not going to get into individuals.”
Asked if the PM accepted he misled Parliament, the spokesman replied: “Clearly … there were events and instances where rules were broken. That’s why he has corrected the record and apologised.”
Asked who “assured” Boris Johnson that no rules were broken, he said: “I’m not going to get into who provided pieces of advice to the Prime Minister.”
Meanwhile new advice introduced earlier this year – since Sue Gray’s interim report – will urge civil servants not to drink to excess.
It makes clear “excessive consumption or sufficient consumption to impair judgement” of alcohol is not acceptable – but “occasional and limited consumption” may be acceptable in some circumstances. Alcohol is not completely banned.
Asked if staff will be breathalysed the spokesman said: “No, there will need to be an element of judgement here”.
Asked how, given he gave false information, he felt able to continue doing his job the spokesman told journalists: “I’ve apologised for how the subsequent events were handled.
“Beyond that I will obviously continue to set out to answer your questions as forthrightly as within the parameters I’m able to work.”