Partygate investigator Sue Gray broke Civil Service code by discussing a job with Labour, inquiry finds

3 July 2023, 10:52 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 11:12

Partygate investigator Sue Gray who can start as Sir Keir Starmer's chief of staff in September
Partygate investigator Sue Gray who can start as Sir Keir Starmer's chief of staff in September. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Former senior civil servant Sue Gray broke the Civil Service code "as a result of the undeclared contact" between her and the Labour Party, according to a Cabinet Office investigation.

Ms Gray was cleared last week by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) to start work as Sir Keir Starmer's chief of staff in September after the anti-corruption watchdog ruled it had seen "no evidence" that her decision making or impartiality was "impaired" while serving in Whitehall.

In a written ministerial statement about the Whitehall probe into the Partygate investigator, Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said: "I can now confirm that the Cabinet Office process looking into the circumstances leading up to Ms Gray's resignation has been concluded.

"As part of the process, Ms Gray was given the opportunity to make representations but chose not to do so.

"This process, led by the Civil Service, found that the Civil Service code was prima facie broken as a result of the undeclared contact between Ms Gray and the Leader of the Opposition.

"The rules and guidance that govern the conduct of civil servants are clear and transparent. It is deeply unfortunate that events have transpired in this way."

A Labour Party spokesman branded the statement as "Mickey Mouse nonsense" and a "political stunt" by the Tories.

"All rules were complied with," the spokesman said.

"The Acoba (Advisory Committee on Business Appointments) process makes that clear.

"This statement is a political stunt by a Tory government out of ideas and out of road."

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The spokesman claimed "it says everything you need to know about the Tories that they have spent weeks wasting time on this Mickey Mouse nonsense" while "refusing to investigate" groping allegations against former London mayoral hopeful Daniel Korski.

"We're looking forward to Sue Gray joining us this September as we continue to show the country that only Labour can build a better Britain," the spokesman added.

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Acoba on Friday recommended that Ms Gray have a six-month cooling-off period, starting from the day she quit the civil service, before taking up her new role with the Opposition, allowing her to start in two months' time.

The watchdog ruled it had seen "no evidence" that her decision making or impartiality was "impaired" while serving in Whitehall.

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