Press release 19th Apr 2022

Downing Street parties: Full transparency needed in publishing Sue Gray report

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Related Publication

Submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life Standards Matter 2 consultation


The introduction of the seven Nolan Principles was a significant moment for standards regulation in the UK. These are an integral part of building positive social norms and practices in our democratic system. However, as they are by nature very broad, on their own it is entirely possible for those in public life to interpret them very differently in practice, whilst believing in good faith that they are upholding them. This inconsistency in approach, combined with poor transparency, limited scope of regulations, a lack of independence for key regulators and weak sanctions for breaches of the rules mean that ethical standards cannot be effectively upheld.

The UK has a wide ranging and complex patchwork of codes, laws and conventions that regulate ethical behaviour in public life at a local, devolved and UK level. The fact that key areas or risk have been identified and some attempt has been made to mitigate them, is very welcome. However, as these frameworks have often been developed in response to a specific scandal or incident, they are not always comprehensive or holistic in approach. They also frequently fall below international best practice. We welcome this review and the opportunity to reflect more comprehensively on the gaps in the existing framework for ensuring ethical standards.

Transparency International UK has published several research reports that examine many different aspects of this agenda in detail. We have not sought to replicate those reports here. Rather we have looked systemically across the different ethical frameworks and identified common themes that undermine their effectiveness.

Read More

Saga underscores need for urgent reform of rules governing integrity in public office


April 19, 2022 – Sue Gray’s report into parties in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown should be published in full as soon as possible, Transparency International UK said today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are among those issued fines by the Metropolitan Police following an investigation into lockdown-breaking parties.

A Cabinet Office report, compiled by senior civil servant Sue Gray, is expected to provide detail on these gatherings. An update on her investigation was released in January this year but the report is yet to be published.

The ‘partygate’ saga also highlights the need for major and urgent reform of the measures to ensure honesty and integrity from British politicians.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life last year made a series of recommendations to improve transparency and accountability in politics. Transparency International UK has previously warned that failing to implement these measures would be a deliberate choice to leave the door wide open to impropriety in public office.


Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said:

“Recent events have again underscored the precarious state of the UK’s safeguards against impropriety by those in government. Convention dictates the Prime Minister is the owner and arbiter of the Ministerial Code, which is clear that all ministers must uphold the law. We continue to call for this convention-based system to be overhauled with the Ministerial Code itself to be enshrined in law. Government should also enact, with urgency, the full set of reforms recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life last year.

“The Prime Minister has previously committed to publish Sue Gray’s report and then answer questions from MPs. Now that the police have concluded that laws were repeatedly broken in Downing Street during the pandemic, the full report into what happened – as well as who knew what and when - should be released as soon as possible. Anything less would suggest her investigation was not commissioned in order to provide transparency and accountability, but merely as a ruse to defer and avoid it.”


Notes to editors:

Transparency International UK’s Chief Executive Daniel Bruce gave evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life in March.


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