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UK investigation into Downing Street Covid lockdown parties finds


Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement at Parliament on January 31, 2022 in London, England.

Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — The interim findings of an investigation into Covid-19 lockdown-breaking parties at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office and residence have sharply criticized the culture in Downing Street.

The 12-page interim report, published in a redacted form Monday on the government’s website, makes clear that lockdown parties “should not have been allowed to take place,” while others “should not have been allowed to develop as they did.”

In a series of damning conclusions, senior civil servant Sue Gray’s partial findings said there were “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times” and some of the behavior was “difficult to justify.”

It also found that the excessive consumption of alcohol was “not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time” and some staff had wanted to raise concerns about behavior they witnessed but felt unable to do so.

“At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time,” the report said.

Gray said it had not been possible to provide a meaningful report after the Metropolitan Police had controversially asked her to make “minimal reference” to parties they are also investigating.

The Met’s move provoked a backlash from British lawmakers who accused the police of attempting to effect the political process and to “whitewash” the report.

After multiple reports of various gatherings and alleged parties in government buildings, the latest disclosure in recent weeks was that an event was held during lockdown to celebrate Johnson’s birthday on June 19, 2020.

Johnson has so far resisted calls to resign from across the political spectrum, despite public anger over the long and growing list of alleged lockdown breaches.

In response to Gray’s interim report, Johnson told lawmakers gathered in the House of Commons that he was sorry for the way the matter had been handled and accepted it was time to review codes of conduct.

“Firstly, I want to say sorry,” Johnson said Monday afternoon. “I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way that this matter has been handled.”

Johnson conceded it wasn’t enough to say sorry and said he will create an Office of the Prime Minister, with a permanent secretary.

“I get it and I will fix it,” Johnson said, prompting a chorus of jeers from opposition lawmakers.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said that “by routinely breaking the rules he set, the prime minister took us all for fools.”

“He gleefully treats what should be a mark of shame as a welcome shield,” Starmer added, noting that Gray’s report shows there are 12 cases that have reached the…


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