Dominic Raab has refused to confirm that the Sue Gray report into alleged Downing Street parties will be published in full next week, saying that the amount of detail released publicly would be a matter for Boris Johnson.
In what appeared to be a scaling back of the government’s commitment to openness on the report, Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, promised there would be “full transparency”, but declined to give any specifics.
Gray, the senior civil servant tasked with investigating claims of lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street and elsewhere in government, is expected to publish the report in the coming week.
Asked whether the public would be able to see it in full, Raab told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme: “Quite the way the process for it will be for the prime minister to decide. But there will be full transparency. He has said he will come back to the Commons and make a statement, so there will be full scrutiny.”
Pressed on whether this meant it would be fully published, Raab said: “I’m not quite sure the shape and the form it will come, but the prime minister has been clear there will be full transparency around this, so that people can see. We welcome that transparency, we need to learn lessons.”
It has been reported that Gray’s investigation has been expanded to consider claims that Johnson and his wife, Carrie, held parties in their flat above 11 Downing Street. According to the Sunday Times, Gray is looking into whether visits to the flat amid lockdown by government aides who are close friends with Carrie Johnson were necessary for work.
Raab declined to say whether Gray was looking into this, but did agree that Johnson would be expected to resign if he had misled parliament over the issue of parties.
“The whole point of Sue Gray conducting this investigation is that she can look without fear or favour at whatever she wants to look at, and we avoid trial by media or the soap opera of things coming out without being substantiated,” Raab said when asked about the new claims.
“What I would say in relation to any of this is, if it’s significant, it’s important, Sue Gray should look at it.”
Asked if Johnson should go if parties in the flat did happen, Raab said he would not answer “hypothetical questions”, but added: “We’ve been clear that the ministerial code of conduct is there for everyone, including the prime minister.”
Quizzed on whether Johnson would have to go if he lied to the Commons, he said: “The code of conduct for ministers is very clear, that if you mislead parliament it’s a resigning matter.”
Speaking earlier, the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown said it seemed unlikely that Johnson’s career would “end in anything other than scandal”.
“My fear is that scandal is going to follow Boris Johnson as long as he is prime minister,” Brown told Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday.
“We don’t just have the scandal – and all the details will probably come out later this week about partying – we have the conflicts of interest, we have the dubious appointments, we have foreign money and question marks over that, who is paying the bills for what? And I don’t think we are going to see this administration end in anything other than scandal.”