Vomiting, fighting, and breaking a child's swing: Inside the details of UK's partygate report

Business Insider US
Boris Johnson gives a toast at the part thrown during one of England's lockdowns. ITV News
Boris Johnson gives a toast at the part thrown during one of England's lockdowns. ITV News
  • Sue Gray's long-awaited report lifts the lid on the multiple parties that took place during lockdowns.
  • People drank so much they were sick, got into fights, and broke a child's swing, the report said.
  • Gray blamed "failures of leadership and judgement in No 10 and the Cabinet Office".
  • For more stories go to

The long-awaited investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson and so-called partygate was released on Wednesday, lifting the lid on some of the raucous behaviour in 10 Downing Street during England's Covid-19 lockdowns.

The report by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, called for senior leadership at Downing Street to "bear responsibility" for a culture in which rule-breaking was allowed to develop. It also said there was "no excuse for some of the behaviour" uncovered during the course of the probe. 

Gray also blamed "failures of leadership and judgement in No. 10 and the Cabinet Office", although she did not name Johnson or other individuals specifically. 

However, she said that "some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders", adding: "The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture."

'Somewhat of a comms risk'

The report includes communication between some of the people who organised events, such as the infamous bring-your-own-booze garden party, which was pulled together by Johnson's then-personal private secretary Martin Reynolds. 

Although Reynolds was thought to have instigated the event, various emails and messages show that other aides were involved before he sent an email out, including a discussion about how to get alcohol — which led to staff being asked to supply their own. 

The message was also sent to the office of the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case. Johnson attended the event for around half an hour, the report said.

The messages also suggest that attendees were aware the gathering was not strictly within the rules, as one notes "this will be around the time speakers and cameras are leaving after the press conference and to be mindful of that".

Reynolds replied: "Will do my best!"

It also reveals a subsequent message between Reynolds and other Number 10 aides, referring to an unknown incident as "a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with)".

It appears relatively few people shied away from the invite, with just one unnamed Number 10 director saying they had told Reynolds it was not a good idea. 

Lee Cain, then-director of communications, emailed Reynolds saying it was "somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment", although adds: "I'm sure it will be fine."

There is no evidence that Dominic Cummings, former chief advisor to Johnson, raised objections to it, although he has previously said he did. 

Communications around other events are also laid bare in excruciating detail, with Cain yet again warning of a "substantial comms risk" for a leaving party held in June 2020, involving pizza and karaoke, which got so rowdy that one member of staff was sick. 

There was also "a minor altercation" between two individuals, the report says. 

Another alcohol-fuelled event, with around 45 attendees, left a child's swing damaged, the report said.

There was no mention of a suitcase being used to bring alcohol onto the premises, although the report notes that wine and beer had been bought by attendees.

Alcohol was drunk "until the early hours", with the last staff member leaving at 04:20 at that event, the report said.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.

Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo