Who is Sue Gray?
UK’s Johnson faces fresh scandal over lockdown party breach
Top civil servant Sue Gray is the person tasked with investigating alleged breaches of the Covid-19 restrictions at Downing Street, involving parties and gatherings during the lockdown.
The investigation into a number of incidents was already underway when an explosive revelation unveiled a smoking gun email, revealed by ITV, showing an invitation from a No10 staff member close to Boris Johnson asking staff to a bring-your-own-bottle garden gathering.
The email was sent by Martin Reynolds, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister since 2019, and was sent to around 100 staff on May 20, 2020.
Around 30 to 40 people, including the PM and his wife Carrie, are believed to have attended. So far, the PM has refused to deny his attendance.
According to sources, Gray will have to interview the PM as part of her investigation into breaches. The Met Police are also in contact with Downing Street over the May 20 email.
Sue Gray Biography, Wiki
Sue Gray is one of the UK’s top civil servants and not seen as someone who is a pushover.
She is known for an emphasis on secrecy in her line of work.
The BBC wrote in 2015 : “Even when a document trail exists, Ms Gray is enthusiastic about keeping it a secret. We know that she advised special advisers on how to destroy email (by “double-deletion”) to thwart FOIA [Freedom Of Information Act] requesters.
The 64-year-old replaced cabinet secretary Simon Case at the head of the investigation after claims emerged that he had held his own party during lockdown. Her background is untypical of most civil servants.
Married to country and western singer Bill Conlon from County Down, the two ran a pub in Newry together during the 1980s.
Gray is known as a civil servant with a lot of power. Labour MP Paul Flynn has previously referred to Gray as “deputy God” in Parliament.
Her reputation stems from her time as Director General of Propriety and Ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2012 to 2018, where she was in charge of leading investigations into the actions of ministers.
One investigation led to the sacking of Theresa May’s former deputy Damian Green. Green was accused of inappropriate behaviour towards an activist, which he denied, and of having pornography on his Commons computer.
Gray once held ambitions of becoming head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland.
She told BBC NI’s The View: “Why didn’t I get the job? I’m not sure I’ll ever quite know but I suspect, you know, I suspect people may have thought that I perhaps was too much of a challenger, or a disrupter.”
Sue Gray Career
She has worked in the Civil Service since the late 1970s, apart from a career break in the late 1980s when she ran a pub in Newry with her husband Bill Conlon, a country singer from Portaferry, County Down. She joined the Cabinet Office in the late 1990s.
She later served in the Cabinet Office as the director-general of the propriety and ethics team (2012–2018) and head of the Private Offices Group under the Cabinet Secretary.
In her role overseeing ministerial offices and ethics in government, Gray was described as “the woman who runs the country”. She ran the Plebgate inquiry inside the Cabinet Office, the 2012 reform of non-departmental public bodies, and the investigation into allegations against Damian Green MP relating to his use of computers intended for work purposes. She has been portrayed as relatively unknown but highly influential, and has been described as “an enigma”, and “notorious… for her determination not to leave a document trail.”
In January 2018, the Northern Ireland Executive announced that Gray would transfer to the Northern Ireland Civil Service as Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance in the Northern Ireland Executive from May 2018. In April 2018, it was announced that Gray would be replaced at the Cabinet Office by Helen MacNamara.
In April 2021, it was reported that Gray was returning to Whitehall as the first Second Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office since 2016. She reports to Michael Gove and is in charge of policy on the Union and the constitution.
In December 2021, it was announced that Gray would take over the investigation into the alleged Christmas and other parties and social gatherings that took place at 10 Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, apparently against lockdown legislation and guidance at the time.
The probe was initially led by Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary until he recused himself following separate allegations about Christmas parties in his own office during the same period.
Sue Gray FAQ’s
Who is Sue Gray?
Sue Gray (born 1957 or 1958) is a senior civil servant in the United Kingdom, working for the government. She currently serves as the Second Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office.
How old is Sue Gray?
Sue Gray is currently 64 years old.
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