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Boris Johnson is predicted to scapegoat the top of the civil service Simon Case this week in a determined effort to save lots of his personal job, as each males face stinging criticism in a report into lockdown-breaking events in Downing Avenue.

The long-awaited findings of the senior mandarin Sue Grey will, in keeping with a number of sources, lay explicit blame on Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, for permitting a ingesting tradition to develop wherein rule-breaking events grew to become commonplace throughout lockdowns.

One senior Whitehall determine who has seen sections of the report mentioned it might additionally show extra damaging for Johnson than the high quality he was given in April for attending his personal birthday celebration, as a result of it would clarify the PM’s involvement in a number of different occasions which can have breached guidelines, however for which he was not fined.

“From my expectation of what I do know will probably be the true deal. There might be element. There might be proof. She goes to say that is underneath your watch, that is your home, all that form of stuff,” the supply mentioned.

Senior officers are braced for Case to be so closely criticised that he should supply his resignation, or be sacked by Johnson, to ensure that Johnson to have the ability to say he has acted decisively and discovered classes.

“That’s most likely why he [Case] continues to be there [and not moved from his post already],” mentioned one supply. “As a result of Johnson wants a physique.” If Case have been to be lose his job, nevertheless, it will imply {that a} civil servant who has not been fined would have misplaced his job, whereas the prime minister, who has been fined, retains his.

A buddy of Grey who has labored at a excessive degree along with her within the civil service mentioned the report would make “ugly” studying for each the prime minister and his most senior civil servants and that Grey was in no temper to be compelled into watering down her findings.

Boris Johnson
Sections of the report might show extra damaging for the PM than the high quality he was given for attending his personal birthday celebration, in keeping with a senior Whitehall determine. {Photograph}: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Avenue/AFP/Getty Photographs

The buddy mentioned that earlier than the Johnson period, the one occasion that was ever held amongst workers in Downing Avenue was the annual Christmas one. “We didn’t have karaoke machines and suitcases to usher in drink in these days. I feel will probably be very tough for Simon Case.”

Grey was appointed to take over the investigation into events final December from Case himself, after he was revealed to have hosted an occasion in his personal workplace on 17 December 2020, for which invites have been despatched out saying “Christmas Get together!” A authorities spokesman mentioned on the time that officers in Case’s workplace took half in a “digital quiz”.

It’s anticipated that Johnson and Case, together with a few dozen different officers, might be named by Grey.

Whereas it isn’t anticipated that she’s going to reveal a brand new “smoking gun” element or {photograph} that can by itself inflict terminal injury on the PM, the general impression of these with information of the report is that its criticism of management failings on the very high might be arduous to outlive with out somebody senior falling on their sword.

One other supply with information of Grey’s pondering mentioned: “Sue is in an excellent place to present judgments. She has labored on the coronary heart of presidency for a really very long time. I feel there’s a real query.

“What the hell was it about this time and this place that each one this was allowed to go on? She has labored with any variety of prime ministers so I feel will probably be a component of ‘What was that? Was it a broader tradition?’”

He added: “What has been mentioned to me is nobody goes to return out of this trying good. So there might be injury for Johnson. In some ways it might be extra damaging for him than the high quality as a result of the high quality was for a comparatively minor factor [his birthday party] that individuals have been shocked he acquired fined for. So he was in a position to excuse himself.

“Whereas what is definitely going to return out in Sue’s report is element of a few of the different incidents which maybe are tougher for him to clarify. So though he wasn’t fined for them the element that comes out gained’t look good.”

Grey has contacted about two dozen individuals who she intends to determine, both immediately or not directly, over their involvement in occasions at Downing Avenue. They’ve till the tip of Sunday to reply, and lots of are mentioned to be combating to take care of their anonymity. “There’s a big challenge round publicity and anonymity,” mentioned one insider.

When Grey has thought-about these late representations she’s going to take them into consideration earlier than submitting her report back to Downing Avenue. Johnson has promised to publish it in full and immediately. Publication is now anticipated this week, together with an announcement to the Commons by Johnson.

The prime minister was underneath strain on Saturday to clarify a current assembly he held with Grey. It has led to claims that No 10 had tried to intervene and water down her findings.

It’s understood Grey and Johnson met earlier this month, though a Whitehall supply mentioned the report’s contents weren’t mentioned at any level. Downing Avenue mentioned that the assembly had taken place at Grey’s request, though accounts differed yesterday.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy chief, known as on the PM to “urgently clarify” why the “secret assembly” had taken place. She mentioned public confidence within the course of had already been broken.

“Boris Johnson should urgently clarify why he held a secret assembly with Sue Grey to debate her report regardless of claiming her investigation was utterly unbiased,” she mentioned. “Public confidence within the course of is already depleted, and folks need to know the reality.

“It is a prime minister incapable of taking accountability for the rotten tradition he has created in Downing Avenue or of doing the first rate factor. The Sue Grey report have to be revealed in full and with all accompanying proof.”

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine additionally known as on the PM to throw mild on the assembly. “Any whiff of a stitch-up would make an absolute mockery of the report,” she mentioned.

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