Iain Dale slams allegations PM pressured Sue Gray to drop report as 'borderline corrupt'

24 May 2022, 20:47 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 20:50

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Iain Dale has slammed reports Boris Johnson called a meeting with Sue Gray to urge her to drop her Partygate report as "tantamount to misconduct in public office" and "borderline corrupt".

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The Times was told by two Whitehall sources that the Prime Minister suggested to Ms Gray that she did not need to publish her full report.

"He asked her is there much point in doing it now that it’s all out there," one said.

READ MORE: 'Difficult to have confidence in Government' after Partygate revelations, says Tory MP

READ MORE: Boris Johnson set to apologise as Sue Gray finally releases report

Iain said: "I wonder how many times over the last six months, year, 18 months I've looked into the camera ahead of me, spoken into this microphone and said ‘it takes a lot to shock me but...

“Well, the splash in The Times this morning did shock me.

"It carried a story on the front page which purported to allege that Boris Johnson at his meeting with Sue Gray said that there was ‘no need to publish her full report into Partygate was there’.

"Now just think about that for a moment. She has spent quite a few months compiling this report, it was the basis for the Metropolitan Police inquiry and the Prime Minister is alleged to have suggested to her that she 'didn't really need to publish it did she because it's all out there', that's an alleged quote."

He added: "Now Downing Street have denied that this conversation took place but I have to say the amount of times that Downing Street have denied things over the past six months and then they've turned out to be true is quite a lot isn't it.

"If it is true that Boris Johnson said that, I think that is tantamount to misconduct in public office, I think it's borderline corrupt... and in many ways I think that is more serious than the allegations of attending parties."

Ms Gray's report is expected to be published in full on Wednesday.

Downing Street admitted yesterday it initiated a controversial meeting between Mr Johnson and Ms Gray after it emerged last week the PM and senior civil servant met for an update on the report's progress while it was being drafted.

A No 10 spokesman said "it was suggested it may be helpful to have that meeting" but insisted this was not a request from Mr Johnson.

The meeting was about "timings and publication process", he said, adding he was "not aware of any further" meetings.