The UK’s prime civil servant has stepped except his role main an inquiry into Downing Avenue lockdown parties, after it emerged an match was held in his enjoy deny of job.
Simon Case had been attributable to story on claims Covid principles had been broken at events for crew ideal year.
However his role was put into doubt after reports a celebration was held in his deny of job while London was underneath Covid principles.
No 10 acknowledged the probe would possibly maybe per chance maybe be concluded by senior civil servant Sue Grey.
Ms Grey is the 2d permanent secretary on the Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
A spokesperson for No 10 acknowledged: “To to find sure that the continuing investigation retains public self belief the cabinet secretary [Simon Case] has recused himself for the remainder of the route of.
They acknowledged Ms Grey would “ascertain the facts and existing her findings to the prime minister”.
The BBC understands a quiz was held for contributors of Mr Case’s interior most deny of job on 17 December 2020, and invitations had been sent out titled “Christmas Celebration!”
About 15 other folks had been invited to the gathering at 70 Whitehall, near Downing Avenue, even supposing it is understood no longer everybody changed into up.
Responding to the claims, a authorities spokesperson acknowledged: “Workers in the cabinet secretary’s interior most deny of job took fragment in a virtual quiz on 17 December 2020.
“A cramped series of them, who had been working in the deny of job for the length of the pandemic and on duty that day, took fragment from their desks, while the remainder of the team had been virtual.
“The cabinet secretary performed no fragment in the match, but walked thru the team’s deny of job on the manner to his enjoy deny of job.
“No open air guests or other crew had been invited or existing. This lasted for an hour and drinks and snacks had been sold by these attending. He additionally spoke in temporary to crew in the deny of job sooner than leaving.”
‘Corruption and sleaze’
The celebration was first reported on the Guido Fawkes web location on Friday afternoon.
Mr Case, who has been cabinet secretary since ideal September, had been asked by Boris Johnson to evaluate gatherings for crew in authorities buildings ideal year.
His inquiry was focusing on events in Downing Avenue on 27 November, 15 December and 18 December, and on the training division on 10 December.
This investigation was presupposed to sure up whether or no longer principles had been broken – and heaps hoped it would possibly maybe maybe in point of fact maybe allow the authorities to switch on.
As a replacement, it rumbles on and on. We are seeing extra allegations – honest as a lot as the deny of job of the man who was given the job of investigating.
It is deeply embarrassing for the authorities – and for the cabinet secretary – that he’s now viewed to get a war of curiosity in this inquiry.
The big image is that Boris Johnson has confronted a torrid few weeks which has left his celebration jittery.
The checklist is long; the handling of sleaze allegations, the story Tory riot in the Commons, the loss of an extremely stable seat, the persisted fallout from allegations of Christmas parties in Whitehall.
Christmas cheer will most likely be in temporary provide in the Conservative Celebration this year. And heaps MPs will most likely be hoping the prime minister makes some famous contemporary year’s resolutions to unique the ship.
Responding to press reports of the gathering in Mr Case’s deny of job, Labour’s deputy chief Angela Rayner acknowledged: “Boris Johnson as prime minister has role the tone for the civil carrier and the remainder of authorities.
“With every contemporary revelation there would possibly maybe be rising proof of a tradition of turning a blind peep to the principles.
“Labour made it sure when the investigation was launched that the actual person guilty desires to be uncompromised and in a deny to to find an very righteous and unbiased judgement. These contemporary revelations put that into query.”
The SNP’s Westminster chief Ian Blackford entreated the prime minister to nominate a raise, unbiased of authorities, to manual the inquiry.
Talking to the BBC he acknowledged Mr Case had been allowed to “designate his enjoy homework” and that his deny was “no longer tenable”.
“Here’s a authorities that stinks of corruption and stinks of sleaze,” he added.
Who is Sue Grey?
The contemporary head of the inquiry into authorities lockdown parties has worked in numerous departments in conjunction with transport and nicely being.
However she is no longer entirely your conventional career civil servant.
Within the tiresome 1980s she took a career spoil to bustle a pub called the Cove Bar in Northern Ireland.
Talking to the BBC she acknowledged: “I cherished it, cherished it on the time, I’ll maybe per chance maybe never invent it once more.”
Having served as head of the Ethics Personnel in the Cabinet Procedure of job, she has journey of investigating ministers, officers and advisers.
In 2012, her inquiry into “plebgate” resulted in the resignation of then-chief whip Andrew Mitchell. Mr Mitchell admitted the spend of imperfect language in opposition to a Downing Avenue police officer, but denied calling him a “pleb”.
And in 2017, one of her investigations compelled Damien Inexperienced to step down as a minister after he was realized to get made “wrong” statements over what he knew about claims pornography was realized on his deny of job computer in 2008.
Closing year she applied to changed into head of the Northern Ireland Civil Carrier, but was rejected – one thing she attributed to being “too grand of a challenger”.
She is married to a rustic and western singer, in the open from County Down, called Bill Conlon.