AN inquiry is underway into the multiple alleged Covid breaches inside the Cabinet Office over the past 18 months, led by Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray.
In the coming weeks, she will report her findings, which could prove hugely damaging for Boris Johnson. Here’s what we know about her.
Sue Gray’s findings could prove damning for Boris JohnsonCredit: AP
Who is Sue Gray?
Sue Gray, a senior civil servant some have described as “the most powerful person you’ve never heard of”, is currently examining evidence around several gatherings that may have broken coronavirus legislation.
Ms Gray joined the civil service straight from school and worked her way up to the Cabinet Office, where for six years, she led the government’s Propriety and Ethics team which provides advice to government departments on standards issues.
Polly Mackenzie – who worked as a special adviser in the Cabinet Office – told the BBC’s Profile programme in 2017: “Sue has been there for so long, she knows everything that anybody has ever done wrong.”
What does Sue Gray do for the Government?
She would later apply these skills as the Cabinet Office’s head of ethics and propriety from 2012 to 2018, where she oversaw inquiries into a number of tricky topics, including allegations concerning the Conservative MP Damian Green and also the “plebgate” inquiry of 2014.
From 2018 to 2021 Gray served as the permanent secretary of the department of finance in Northern Ireland and then returned to the Cabinet Office in May 2021 as second permanent secretary with responsibility for the union and constitution directorate.
According to the inquiry’s terms of reference, the purpose of Ms Gray’s probe is to establish “a general understanding of the nature” of gatherings that took place and whether any “individual disciplinary action” should be taken.
Her report, which ministers say will be published shortly, is likely to be a largely factual account of any gatherings, and she cannot rule on whether lockdown laws were broken.
When will the Sue Gray report be published?
Ms Gray’s findings are expected to be published in the coming weeks – as opposed to months.
But there is no timescale for the inquiry.
Internal inquiries into allegations of staff bullying by Home Secretary Priti Patel took six months, while those around MP Damian Green and pornographic images on his work computer lasted about two months.
The Gray inquiry does not have the remit of a parliamentary or independent inquiry – such as the one into the Grenfell Tower fire or the forthcoming probe into the government’s handling of the pandemic.