Here we go…
This morning The Times is claiming Sue Gray is in a huff with Guido. In both Steven Swinford and Oliver Wright’s big splash and in Little Read Box, it’s alleged that Gray is “very p*ssed off” with the attention she’s getting – and apparently Guido is public enemy number one:
That’s true, Sue Gray’s “friend” demonstrating once again how unfair it is to criticise civil servants who can’t answer back. Guido did publish that photo. Here it is again. Oddly enough, The Times seems to be glossing over the most crucial part of our coverage: the Queen’s Counsel advising Gray, Daniel Stilitz, is a card-carrying Labour member who tweeted dozens of partisan, anti-Boris posts over several years. The Times, which is closely covering the minutiae of the Gray report, is completely silent on the Stilitz issue. The Times hasn’t mentioned him once, yet The Times is very well sourced on the report. Always protect your sources is the first rule of journalism…
In the very same building, Matt Chorley has dusted off his tinfoil hat once again to start tweeting about things he doesn’t understand and knows nothing about. Yesterday he claimed Guido’s Gray stories were coming from No.10, who’re “briefing against” Sue because they’re “panicking“. Presumably he missed the fact that Michael Crick actually tweeted about Sue Gray’s son, and her QC adviser, before it even appeared on Guido:
Very foolish of Sue Gray if true, especially when her son is a leading Labour activist.— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) April 28, 2022
We apologise to Crick for not crediting him for the lead. Guido is always willing to help Matt when he’s confused, so he’s happy to explain Michael Crick doesn’t work for Downing Street…
On Friday afternoon Sky News broke the detail-light news that Boris and Sue Gray held a meeting about a month ago. Whilst co-conspirators might shrug, the media went mad; launching a weekend-long frenzy over who organised the meeting, its purpose, and suggesting there are now questions about whether Gray has been subjected to political interference. Once the Metropolitan Police didn’t issue any more fines to Boris, and the media realised Sue Gray wasn’t likely to dislodge Boris either, the anti-Boris media immediately switched tack and began casting doubt on her inquiry…
The media failed to get quite so het up a month ago when it emerged Sue Gray was being advised by a Brexit and Boris hating QC., Daniel Stilitz, is the only external lawyer consulted by Gray and is name-checked at the start of the report. A card-carrying Labour Party member, Stilitz only deleted his social media accounts when Conservative Post noticed a huge quantity of tweets from him backing a second referendum, slamming the government, and encouraging people to sign up for Labour Party membership. Guido was tipped off that it might be interesting to look into who sanctioned Stiliz’s involvement – questions the Cabinet Office haven’t answered…
Sue Gray is hardly from a neutral political home either. Her son, Liam Conlon, is chair of the Labour Party’s Irish branch – a group that hosted Sir Keir for a talk and Q&A just two months ago. Conlon himself has been pictured alongside Starmer and even brought his mum along to meet Labour politicians in Parliament.
If the media’s seriously worried about Gray’s report not being politically neutral, they may want to factor all of this into their analysis…
The Queen’s Counsel advising Sue Gray on her impending Partygate report is a card-carrying Labour member who tweeted dozens of partisan, anti-government posts over several years – including during the pandemic. Daniel Stilitz, who has now deleted his Twitter account, was cited as the only external advisor in Sue Gray’s published summary of her findings:
Yet even a cursory look at his social media history puts the neutrality of that advice into serious doubt:
“The Government’s current rhetoric is nothing compared to the bile they’ll serve up during the forthcoming election campaign.”
“The future of the UK is collateral damage in this mad Tory fight to the death.”
“Why not join Labour? Now seems as good a time as any.”
“Why couldn’t Johnson just say: no, I’m not going to see my mum. I’m going to give her a call. It might save her life?”
At one point, Stilitz even retweeted a claim that Boris is a “reckless dangerous PM”. That same man is now a core adviser on an investigation into Boris’s conduct, which will apparently be “so damning” Boris will have to resign. Yet another shining example of the Civil Service’s diligence and impartiality.
Guido has approached both Stilitz and the Cabinet Office for comment. Radio silence so far…
The Sue Gray has just been released. Guido will precis the findings as we get through Sue’s findings. Prepare for potential disappointment – much of the sexy stuff will have been blocked from publication by the Met…
Sky’s Sam Coates spells out what hacks will be looking for in the report:
“a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did. There is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across Government. This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”
3. “At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did.
4. The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace.”
7. […] “The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability. Too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose principal function is the direct support of the Prime Minister. This should be addressed as a matter of priority.”
This report seems underwhelming in both findings and quantity. It is. Gray clarifies that almost all the events she was investigating – 16 – only four aren’t being investigated by the Met police inquiry:
Despite the Met not investigating these four above events, Gray says she decided against detailing any of them, albeit claiming “without detriment to the overall balance of the findings.”
While SW1 waits for the Sue Gray report with bated breath, this morning the Met have put out a statement formally asking the report not to be published in full while they investigate the most egregious events. The statement reads:
“For the events the Met is investigating, we asked for minimal reference to be made in the Cabinet Office report.
The Met did not ask for any limitations on other events in the report, or for the report to be delayed, but we have had ongoing contact with the Cabinet Office, including on the content of the report, to avoid any prejudice to our investigation”
It now looks like whatever’s eventually published, most likely on Monday, will be far less than what the media, and the opposition, were hoping…