Partygate report delay 'could be to help Boris Johnson', says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Metropolitan Police’s request to redact parts of the civil service report into alleged rule-breaking at Downing Street is suspicious and could be “aiding” Boris Johnson.

The comment came alongside a repeated demand for the publication of the report by the SNP after the Metropolitan Police announced unexpectedly that they have requested “minimal reference” to the events in Number 10 which they are investigating.

This could see the publication of the Sue Gray report, which Boris Johnson has repeatedly told MPs and the opposition to wait for before judging his conduct, delayed indefinitely or heavily redacted.

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The First Minister, who was subject to an investigation in 2021 by James Hamilton into her own conduct around the Alex Salmond scandal which was published heavily redacted, said the intervention could damage public trust.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Met Police's intervention in the publication of the Sue Gray report creates the suspicion it could be to help Boris Johnson.

On Twitter, she said: “This gets murkier by the minute. Sue Gray and the Met are in difficult positions but the sequence of events and the situation arrived at now creates the suspicion - however unfairly - that the process of inquiry is aiding Johnson at the expense of public accountability

“I doubt Johnson cares about damage to the reputations of others - individuals or institutions - as long as he saves his own skin. But these things matter. Rapid conclusion and full publication of the findings of inquiries surely now essential for public trust.”

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, had earlier said the report must be published “undoctored” and said the process is appearing like a “cover up”.

He said: “The Sue Gray report must be published in full and undoctored without further delay. This UK Government farce has gone on long enough.

“People are understandably concerned that this increasingly looks like a cover up.”

He added: “It is a fact that Boris Johnson broke the rules, lied about it, and misled Parliament. This is an extremely serious resignation matter – and he must be held to account.

“The Prime Minister cannot be allowed to wriggle off the hook by using the Metropolitan Police investigation as an excuse to further delay or doctor the report.

“This cannot be another Whitewall whitewash. There must be maximum transparency.

“Any attempt to cover this up or delay the inevitable would be completely unacceptable – and would erode any last remnants of public trust in the Westminster Government.”

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, warned the government against giving the appearance of an “establishment stitch-up” between Scotland Yard and the civil service inquiry.

He said: “So first the police were waiting for Sue Gray, now Sue Gray has to wait for the police?

“Any appearance of an establishment stitch-up between the Met Commissioner and the Government is profoundly damaging. Police officers need the trust and confidence of the public to do their jobs and keep our communities safe.

“The Sue Gray report must be published in full, including all photos, text messages and other evidence. If it is redacted now, a full, unredacted version must be published as soon as the police investigation is complete.”

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