No10 Xmas party probe: Who is Simon Case and what will he investigate?

9 December 2021, 20:00 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case will be investigating the alleged breaches of coronavirus restrictions at the No10 'Christmas party'.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case will be investigating the alleged breaches of coronavirus restrictions at the No10 'Christmas party'. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A "furious" Boris Johnson has asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate the alleged breaches of coronavirus rules at the No10 Christmas party last year, after footage emerged of senior aides laughing about the event.

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The Cabinet Secretary will scrutinise two reported Downing Street parties held on November 27 and December 18 alongside one party held at the education department on December 10.

Here is all you need to know about the top civil servant conducting the inquiry.

Who is Simon Case?

Simon Case was appointed Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service in September 2020.

The Cabinet Secretary is the Prime Minister’s most senior policy adviser and acts as Secretary to the Cabinet, responsible to all ministers for the running of Cabinet Government.

Before this Mr Case was appointed Permanent Secretary at No10, focusing on Covid-19 and the response to the pandemic.

He has amassed over 15 years of experience in the Civil Service - and was appointed as the youngest-ever cabinet secretary and head of the civil service.

Mr Case was previously Private Secretary to HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and has also held many other notable positions, serving under both Cameron’s and May’s administrations.

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What will he investigate?

Mr Case will carry out an independent investigation into three alleged parties which were held at No10 over the Christmas period last year.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis has told MPs that Mr Case will, as well as investigating reports of a staff Christmas bash at Downing Street on December 18 2020, also look into two other alleged events.

He will include in his review a confirmed gathering at the Department for Education’s (DfE) Whitehall headquarters on December 10 last year, and a reported leaving event for a No 10 aide – allegedly attended by Boris Johnson – on November 27.

MPs were also reassured the Cabinet Secretary was “not at any relevant gathering” included in the review.

Any potential criminality uncovered by Mr Case will be reported to the police, who has confirmed it is not investigating the party over a "lack of evidence".

Mr Ellis said officials investigating the matter will have access to "all relevant records" and be able to "speak to staff".

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When will the investigation results be published?

It is not yet known when the investigation findings will be published however the government has confirmed that these will be made public.

However, the Paymaster General, Michael Ellis said: "Following the long-standing practice of successive Administrations, any specific HR action against individuals will remain confidential."

Mr Ellis added that a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings, including attendance will be "established swiftly".

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What events are alleged to have taken place?

November 13 - First leaving party

On November 13, a leaving party was allegedly held for Lee Cain - Boris Johnson’s departing director of communications.

The Prime Minister is said to have given a speech at the event.

November 13 - Second leaving do

A second party is also reported to have taken place on the same day.

It has been rumoured that the leaving do "continued upstairs" for Dominic Cummings, who left on the same day.

However, it has been suggested they were instead separate events, with Mr Cummings tweeting about the "flat party" following the announcement of an internal investigation on Wednesday.

November 27 - Third leaving do

Up to 50 people are said to have gone to Downing Street - including aide Ed Lister - for a leaving do on November 27, according to the Mail.

It is claimed that staff crammed 'cheek by jowl' into a small room while England was in its second lockdown, with Boris Johnson giving a speech.

A source told the paper it was for aide Cleo Watson, who had worked closely with Dominic Cummings.

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December 10 - Department of Education

Several reports claimed that the then Education Secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and gave a short speech on December 10 2020, when London was in Tier 2, which banned mixing between households.

Following the revelation, the department admitted it should have cancelled the event.

Read more: Tory Party admits 'gathering' at HQ in December 2020 amid Downing Street Xmas party row

December 14 - Tory HQ

A Tory spokesperson acknowledged on Wednesday that an "unauthorised social gathering" had taken place on December 14, once again when London was in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions.

However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told LBC he had "no knowledge" of the event.

It is thought around 25 people attended.

Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four staff.

December 18 - Wine, cheese and Secret Santa

This is the Christmas party that has particularly come under fire, with a video being leaked of Mr Johnson's aides joking about it taking place, despite ministers denying it on several occasions.

However, Mr Johnson still insists that all Covid rules were followed and told MPs on Wednesday that he had been assured it did not go ahead.

Christmas quiz

A Christmas quiz is also said to have been held in the Cabinet Office for senior advisers and officials at an unknown date in December, according to reports in The Times.

Invites were reportedly sent out in advance, with Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield thought to have attended.

Of the above events, just three are set to be investigated by Mr Case.

These include the Downing Street Christmas party on December 18, the DfE gathering at Whitehall headquarters on December 10, and a reported leaving event for a No 10 aide – allegedly attended by Boris Johnson – on November 27.