New setback

PM blow as Case forced to quit No 10 party probe

Boris Johnson

Bad week for the Prime Minister

Boris Johnson’s hopes of putting a lid on the Christmas party controversy were blown apart last night after the top civil servant he appointed to lead an inquiry was forced to step down from the role.

Simon Case, the cabinet secretary stepped aside after it emerged that his office had held a party itself during lockdown.

The revelation piled more embarrassment on Mr Johnson after the scandal was partly blamed for the Tories’ crushing defeat in the North Shropshire by-election.

No 10 said the country’s leading civil servant had removed himself from the investigation and will be replaced by Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Communities and Levelling Up department.

“She will ascertain the facts and present her findings to the prime minister,” it said in a statement.

A report by Mr Case into alleged infringements of lockdown by Downing Street staff on 18 December last year, and other events, had been expected as early as this week.  A series of sources now say a Christmas event for staff took place in Mr Case’s office a day earlier.

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