Who is Sue Gray? Career of civil servant leading partygate inquiry

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They all received a speeding ticket (FPN) for attending an event to celebrate the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday in June 2020. Indoor mixing was prohibited at the time of the gathering.

A total of 126 fines were issued by the force – several people received multiple FPNs.

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But who is Sue Gray, what is her background and how did she end up in charge of the Partygate investigation? Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Sue Gray?

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Once referred to as “God’s representative,” Sue Gray is Second Permanent Secretary in the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities, and previously served as Director-General for Decency and Ethics in the Cabinet Office from 2012 to 2018.

Sue Gray investigates Downing Street parties that took place during lockdown (Image: Mazic News)

She is widely viewed as a character who would not pull punches in an investigation.

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Ms Gray oversaw the Plebgate Inquiry in 2012 after former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell was accused of calling a police officer outside the gates of Downing Street “plebs”.

She was once referred to as “God’s representative” by then-Labour MP Paul Flynn at a meeting of Parliament’s Public Administration Committee that same year.

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Former Tory MP and Cabinet Secretary Oliver Letwin is said to have said of Ms Gray: “It took me exactly two years to realize who governs Britain. Our great United Kingdom is actually governed entirely by a woman named Sue Gray, who is the head of ethics or something in the cabinet office. If she doesn’t agree, things just don’t happen.”

She is also part of the panel that decides who will be the next chairman of media regulator Ofcom.

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Ms Gray was once described by BBC Newsnight’s then-politics editor as “the most powerful person you’ve never heard of”.

Who is Sue Gray married to?

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Sue Gray is married to country and western singer Bill Conlon.

The couple ran a pub in Northern Ireland in the 1980s when Ms Gray took a break from her civil servant role.

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Mr. Conlon’s music consists of traditional Irish ballads and has performed at European festivals with his band Emerald.

The two tend to live private lives away from the public spotlight until the party inquiry takes place at Downing Street.

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What happened to Simon Case?

Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary and Head of Internal Services, was appointed by the Prime Minister last December to lead the Partygate inquiry.

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However, reports soon surfaced that he had attended a “Christmas Drinks” event with about 15 to 20 employees.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has been accused of attending “illegal” meetings at Downing Street in December 2020 after it was revealed he was to investigate allegations that rules had been broken. (Image credit: Getty)

He resigned from the investigation, with Ms Gray later replacing him.

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After Mr Case was put in charge of the inquiry, the Prime Minister’s press secretary insisted that “due care had been taken” when asked if the Cabinet Secretary had attended the Downing Street party at the heart of the saga.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Ellis told the Commons that Mr Case “was not at any relevant meeting”.

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