Cabinet Secretary’s Office Hosted Christmas Parties Last December

Earlier this week, we were told to expect the findings of the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s Downing Street party investigation today – that’s now been pushed back. On the media round this morning, Oliver Dowden boldly said the investigation will “vindicate” the PM. Guido questions how Simon Case can credibly be expected to conclude anything different, given according to widespread rumours, now confirmed to Guido by a source who attended them, parties were held in Case’s own 70 Whitehall office on two occasions last December. You read that correctly…

Rumours of such an event have been doing the rounds in SW1. According to the whistleblower the party on December 17th was planned and organised in advance by staff in Case’s Private Office, it featured copious booze and music. While Case wasn’t actively participating, they claim to have spotted the Cabinet Secretary sticking his head into the room to call staff out at various points during the party to talk with them. The source remembers “at least 15 people including his actual office people in the room”…

A second event last December also saw staff drinking in Case’s office before departing for drinks elsewhere. Both events took place in the days before the notorious party of December 18th in Downing Street – now under investigation– as revealed by The Mirror. If Case expands his inquiry to cover these ‘gatherings’, Guido can’t imagine it’ll take very long to gather the facts.

Guido doesn’t doubt Oliver Dowden’s forecast that Case’s investigation will “vindicate” the Prime Minister will come true. While any findings will be made public, the names of those involved and potentially sanctioned won’t be. Slaps on the wrists all round.

The press has been solemnly briefed that Civil Servants have had to comply with the investigation and hand over their phones. It should, however, be noted that they’ve only given over work phones – not private mobiles more likely to include party photos, calendar entries or WhatsApps. Guido has been told only senior Civil Servants are being asked to hand over personal phones, and they are unlikely to have been involved in the practical organisation of the parties or the sending of invites. Case’s investigation has all the hallmarks of a classic Civil Service sham inquiry, which will surely lead to calls from the opposition for the PM to hand it over to someone truly independent. Or at least to someone who wasn’t illegally hosting parties last December…

UPDATE: Rayner responds to the allegations, now also followed up by a joint Politico/Independent investigation:

“Boris Johnson as Prime Minister has set the tone for the civil service and the rest of government. 

“Which each new revelation there is growing evidence of a culture of turning a blind eye to the rules.

“Labour made it clear when the investigation was launched that the person in charge should be uncompromised and able to make a fair and independent judgement. These fresh revelations put that into question.”

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