PARTYGATE executioner Sue Gray yesterday quit the civil service to become Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s right-hand woman — sparking uproar and claims there had been a “stitch-up” to bring down Boris Johnson.
Ms Gray’s report helped topple the ex-PM.
Sue Gray has quit the civil service to become Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s right-hand woman
She has now accepted the job of Labour’s Chief of Staff after years at the heart of government as an impartial official.
Her job was terminated “with immediate effect” with officials removing computers and classified files from her home.
And news of her appointment sparked fury in Downing Street and across the civil service — with an urgent probe launched by the Cabinet Office.
Secret talks with Mr Starmer had not been declared, with pressure growing on PM Rishi Sunak to block the appointment under strict rules for up to two years.
Tory MP Luke Hall accused Mr Starmer of “bringing the entire civil service into disrepute” while allies of Mr Johnson decried a “giant Labour and civil service stitch-up”.
A source close to the former Prime Minister said the shock hire “raised questions about the entire Partygate saga and to what extent this was a calculated and coordinated attempt to take out a Brexit-backing Prime Minister”.
Mr Sunak’s allies hinted they would try to block the move.
One said: “The Prime Minister believes passionately in the principle of civil service impartiality and would not countenance anything that would compromise that.”
Ms Gray was the chief investigator of lockdown-breaking parties in 10 Downing Street.
They included a drinks gathering in the garden of Downing Street in May 2020, a birthday bash for then-PM Mr Johnson in June that year, and a leaving party for a special adviser that November.
Ms Gray’s scathing report described “failures of leadership and judgment” inside No 10 and led to Mr Johnson’s downfall two months later.
She was expected to be the star witness at the Commons Privileges inquiry into the affair.
Ms Gray spent a decade as Whitehall’s top sleaze-buster, intimately involved in every single reshuffle, appointment and scandal probe — meaning she will be leaving with a trove of secrets.
One former colleague said: “What is Sue meant to do, just forget all that now she’s working for a political party whose job it is to attack the Government every day?”
Raging civil servants and Tory MPs were last night saying the appointment was not tenable.
Ms Gray’s Partygate report helped topple ex-PM Boris Johnson
Secret talks with Mr Starmer had not been declared, with pressure growing on PM Rishi Sunak to block the appointment
One senior government source said: “This doesn’t smell right at all. Serious questions need to be asked.”
Another said: “This feels all wrong. I thought she was meant to be independent and impartial, both in her role as a senior civil servant but also in the Partygate investigation? It’s hard to believe this now and seems that all along she’s been eagerly waiting for the day she can be Starmer’s chief enforcer.
“Her integrity and judgment will now rightly be questioned.
“This is truly dreadful and should be stopped in its tracks.”
A former minister said: “There needs to be an urgent investigation into whether Sue Gray has breached the civil service code.
“Her report is now utterly discredited along with all the testimony that she collated.
“The public will see that this was a shameful stitch-up that has now been exposed for what it is.”
Johnson loyalists were outraged, with Jacob Rees-Mogg saying: “So much for an impartial civil service, the Gray report now looks like a left-wing stitch-up against a Tory Prime Minister.”
Red Wall MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said: “As a former Cabinet Office minister myself, I am genuinely shocked to see this.
“After the events of last year, people will quite understandably be questioning the appropriateness of this appointment, including issues of impartiality.”
Former minister Lord David Frost added: “Who can now say it’s only ministers and party politicians who no longer respect the unwritten conventions of the British constitution?”
Ex-Culture Secretary and Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries said Ms Gray’s move was “not surprising”.
She said: “Whilst writing the report, she used a QC who tweeted out pro-Labour anti-government tweets. Her communications assistant briefed against Boris from day one. The Gray report was a stitch-up.”
The Cabinet Office said yesterday it was “reviewing the circumstances under which Ms Gray resigned”.
A spokesman said: “We can confirm that Sue Gray has resigned from the post of Second Permanent Secretary in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.”
Ms Gray spent a decade as Whitehall’s top sleaze-buster, intimately involved in every single reshuffle, appointment and scandal probe
A Labour Party spokesman said: “The Labour Party has offered Sue Gray the role of chief of staff to the Leader of the Opposition.
“We understand she hopes to accept the role subject to the normal procedures. Keir Starmer is delighted she is hoping to join our preparations for government and our mission to build a better Britain.”