Who is Sue Gray? What is she investigating and her Northern Ireland connection revealed

The civil servant tasked with investigating the Downing Street Party used to run a pub in Northern Ireland.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 1:28 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 4:59 pm

Boris Johnston has been hit by allegations of parties and events in Number 10, whilst the country was under lockdown.

Earlier this week he apologised in the House of Commons for his actions on May 20, but when pushed about what happened, he kept requesting MPs wait for the results of the enquiry.

The enquiry in question will be carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

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There have been numerous allegations of parties at Number 10, whilst the UK was in lockdown.

Gray is tasked with the job of uncovering what happened in Downing Street and what action needs to be taken.

But who is Sue Gray and what alleged parties is she investigating?

Who is Sue Gray?

Sue Gray is senior civil servant who is the permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

She was previously the director-general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2012 to 2018 and has overseen and lead investigations into minister conduct in the past.

BBC Newsnight policy editor Chris Cook dubbed Gray in 2015 as, "the most powerful person you’ve never heard of”

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What alleged parties will she be investigating?

It isn't just the latest party that Sue will be looking into, the civil servant will be investigating four alleged lockdown breaches including:

May 15, 2020: Alleged garden party with Boris and Carrie Johnston pictured enjoying wine and cheese with more than a dozen people.

May 20, 2020: Downing Street garden party where invites were sent to 100 members of staff.

November 27, 2020: Alleged leaving party for Cleo Watson.

December 15, 2020: The Christmas quiz, which was online, but where Boris Johnston was pictured with two staff members.

April 16, 2021: Two confirmed staff events at Number 10 when the country was in national mourning on the eve of Prince Phillip's funeral.

What are her Northern Ireland links?

Sue Gray is married to country and western singer from County Down, Bill Conlon.

In the late 80's the pair used to run a pub outside Newry called the Cove Bar.

Some are seeing this as an advantage for her investigation, with a friend commenting to the Daily Mail, "if a pub landlady doesn't know what a party is, who will?"

What were the Covid rules at the time of the events?

The UK went into lockdown on March 23, 2020.

When each of the alleged incidents happened the UK was under strict lockdown.

In May, people were only allowed to meet up outdoors with one other person from outside their household and two metres social distancing, needed to be in place.

You were not allowed to visit friends and family at their homes and gardens and Covid support bubbles had not been introduced.

High streets were still closed, with any shop deemed non-essential closed, it wouldn't be until June 15, 2020 that they would reopen.

In November and December, the UK was under the second national lockdown of the pandemic, with a tiered system introduced on December 1.

Non-essential businesses closed, and people were only allowed to leave home to meet one person from outside their support bubble outdoors.

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