Sue Gray did not cooperate with investigation into Labour hiring, government reveals

2 May 2023, 18:58 | Updated: 4 May 2023, 12:04

Chief partygate investigator Sue Gray
Chief partygate investigator Sue Gray. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Partygate investigator Sue Gray did not cooperate with the inquiry into her talks with Labour about a senior party role, the deputy prime minister has said.

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Oliver Dowden gave an update on Tuesday evening to the Cabinet Office inquiry into the "circumstances leading to the resignation of Sue Gray" to take up the role of chief of staff to the Labour leader.

Mr Dowden told parliament that the process "involved interviewing relevant persons" to establish "further details" on any discussions between Ms Gray and Sir Keir Starmer.

Mr Dowden wrote: "I can update the House that Ms Gray was given the opportunity to make representations as part of this process but chose not to do so."

Read more: Sue Gray joining Labour shows Partygate was 'deliberate and manufactured plot', Boris Johnson ally claims

Read more: James O'Brien ridicules anger over Sue Gray appointment as he lists Tory transgressions

Read more: Ex-civil servant condemns claims Sue Gray had 'political plot' after her appointment as Labour chief of staff

He added: "I hope the House will understand that, in order to maintain confidentiality towards an individual former employee, I am unable at this stage to provide further information relating to the departure of Ms Gray whilst we consider next steps."

Oliver Dowden
Oliver Dowden. Picture: Alamy

The Cabinet Office has made recommendations to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which vets the new jobs of former ministers and senior civil servants.

Ms Gray rose to prominence after being appointed the chief investigator into the partygate scandal, publishing a report that found a "failure of leadership and judgement" during Boris Johnson's time as prime minister.

She will be replacing Sam White, who served as the Labour Party's chief of staff for around one year. Her appointment first needs to be authorised by ACOBA.

It is understood Sir Keir had been looking for someone with significant experience working with government officials at the top level.

Sue Gray is set to join Sir Keir's team as chief of staff
Sue Gray is set to join Sir Keir's team as chief of staff. Picture: Alamy

Ms Gray first joined the cabinet office in the 1990s, eventually going on to serve as director.In 2018, Ms Gray transferred to the Northern Ireland civil service, but moved back to Whitehall in 2021 after failing to become head of the service.

She became a household name when she was appointed as the chief investigator into the partygate scandal, publishing her findings on the series of lockdown breaches in January 2022.

In her report, Ms Gray said a string of government gatherings held during lockdown were "difficult to justify" while millions were not allowed to meet friends and family.

She has a reputation for being stern, while also being widely respected across the civil service.

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