Johnson faces a battle to retain his prime ministerial post after senior government official Sue Gray released a statement on Wednesday criticizing the culture of law-breaking events and revealing his new photos at two separate meetings.
Gray wrote that the “senior leadership at the center” of Johnson’s administration should “accept responsibility” for the culture that allows parties to take place.
“There is no excuse for certain behaviors that involve” excessive drinking, “he added. There were also recordings of email exchanges in which some employees openly discussed covering their party from the media.
The report examines 16 incidents that took place at the center of government while the United Kingdom was living under strict Govt-19 restrictions.
A picture of him raising a beer can at Johnson’s birthday party was also thrown in his memory, with additional pictures of Johnson being included in the documentary at another event.
Speaking in Parliament a few minutes after the report was released, Johnson said he was “humiliated” and “learned my lesson”: “I take full responsibility for everything that happened under my watch.”
But he reiterated previous claims that the parties only increased after he left, and stressed that he was “surprised and disappointed” by the number of alcohol-related incidents.
He suggested that the “very long time” of his staff responding to the crisis residences of government buildings and the Govt-19 crisis could explain why so many parties and social events took place.
“I believe it is one of the essential duties of leadership and I briefly attend meetings like this to thank them for their service,” Johnson said.
The report raises serious questions about whether Johnson misled lawmakers when denying parties earlier.
He was attacked by opposition Labor leader Khair Stormer, who said the investigation “provides conclusive evidence of how the sacrifices of the British people were carried out with complete contempt by those inside the building.”
“This statement stands as a monument to the pride and arrogance of a government that believed in one rule for them and another for everyone else,” Stormer said.
“You can’t be a lawmaker and a lawbreaker. It’s time to pack his bags.”
Staff were advised to bring alcohol and avoid the media
Gray also found that in May 2020 Johnson attended a garden party for about half an hour, where there were approximately “30-40 people”.
The invitation to the event was open to “Social Distance Drinks” staff at Downing Street Garden, “to those in your office”.
“Can you recommend that they bring their own liquor? We’m not sure if that’s enough,” Johnson’s Principal Personal Secretary, Martin Renault, said in an email, according to the report. The next day, Reynolds wrote to a colleague that the media had not reported on the party: “We seem to have left (it).”
In an e-mail exchange, staff were told to avoid “waving bottles of wine” while the media was in the building and to reduce the volume during meetings of the Covit-19 ministers’ press conference.
Some staff felt uncomfortable with the behavior within No. 10, but were afraid to raise the issue, Gray found. In other cases, police personnel were mistreated by those involved in the incidents.
“I know of many examples of security and cleaning staff being treated with disrespect and ill-treatment. This is unacceptable,” he wrote.
Gray also pointed out that Downing Street officials were not prepared to provide information about the parties: “Unfortunately the details of some of the events were only known to me and my team through the news in the media. This is disappointing.”
Johnson’s tenure was marred by months of scandal, dubbed “Partigate” by the British media. He initially denied any involvement, but later 16 were questioned by Gray, 12 were questioned by police and Johnson was fined by authorities for attending an event.
Johnson is scheduled to address the House of Commons later Wednesday. Some lawmakers in his own Conservative party have joined opposition calls in recent weeks for him to resign, and he must now persuade his colleagues to stand by him despite numerous allegations and Gray’s poor investigations.
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