Minister refuses to say if No 10 called ‘secret meeting’ with Sue ...
Sky News

Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, tried to reassure the public of the independence of Sue Gray’s Partygate report on Sunday, but only seemed to make things worse.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge at the end of a week which featured reports of a private meeting between the senior civil servant and the prime minister, the Tory MP stressed Boris Johnson would “never intervene” in Ms Gray’s inquiry.

Mr Zahawi said: “Let’s not create this sort of ‘air of doubt’ around simply a process that has been actually robust and rigorous, that’s all I’m saying.

“All I will say to you is Sue Gray knows that her report has to be independent, has to be professional, and of that I have no doubt. Look at the first report, she didn’t pull her punches on the first report.”

Ms Ridge asked: “You’ve said numerous times that the prime minister didn’t intervene, how do you know that if you don’t know what was discussed at the meeting?”

He replied: “Because I know the prime minister has been determined from day one, and has shared that with me, with other ministers and of course the country, that he would have Sue Gray conduct her report independently.

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“He would never intervene or in any way try to influence that report, and that’s what Sue Gray has done and will publish.”

The Sky News host pressed again: “How can you give that guarantee if you don’t know what the meeting was about?”

The education secretary responded: “Because I have no doubt in Sue Gray’s professionalism and integrity … I know Sue Gray; I’ve worked with Sue Gray. There is no way she would allow herself to be influenced by anybody.”

Unfortunately, as ever, the public remained unconvinced by the Tory minister’s assurances:

It is not known when Ms Gray’s report will be published, but The Independent has been told it could come as soon as next week now the Metropolitan Police investigation has concluded.

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