Official leading investigation into alleged Downing Street parties quits probe over claims he also broke rules

Official leading investigation into alleged Downing Street parties quits probe over claims he also broke rules

The man leading the investigation into alleged parties in Downing Street last year has stepped down from the probe over allegations there was also party in his own office and people think it’s farcical.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case quit the investigation after it was reported that a quiz was held for members of his private office on 17 December 2020, with invites usefully sent out to around 15 people titled “Christmas Party!”

After the party was initially reported by Guido Fawkes, government spokesperson told the BBC: “Staff in the cabinet secretary’s private office took part in a virtual quiz on 17 December 2020.

“A small number of them, who had been working in the office throughout the pandemic and on duty that day, took part from their desks, while the rest of the team were virtual.

“The cabinet secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office.

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“No outside guests or other staff were invited or present. This lasted for an hour and drinks and snacks were bought by those attending. He also spoke briefly to staff in the office before leaving.”

It comes after reports that there were a number of parties hosted in Downing Street last year while the country faced strict coronavirus restrictions. The allegations have already led to two resignations: former spokesperson to the PM Allegra Stratton resigned after a video of her and other government staffers talking about how to respond to press questions about a party emerged, while former Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey shuffled off after images of him at a party in his office were published.

No 10 said the party probe which Boris Johnson ordered to put the matter to bed would be concluded by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who previously served as head of the ethics team in the Cabinet Office.

A spokesperson for No 10 said: “To ensure the ongoing investigation retains public confidence the cabinet secretary [Simon Case] has recused himself for the remainder of the process”.

They said Gray would “ascertain the facts and present her findings to the prime minister”.

Reacting to the news, people couldn’t believe it - except they could:

The Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, told BBC Two’s Newsnight that “having somebody else from the civil service marking their own isn’t good enough” and that it should be someone with authority from outside the government and civil service.

“I would suggest that the best way to do that would be by having a judge-led inquiry,” he added.

What a pickle.

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