“A 'secret' meeting between Boris Johnson and Sue Gray was requested by her and did not discuss her detailed findings about Partygate”

‘Whitehall sources” as quoted in the Daily Mail

May 22, 2022

Facts

The Daily Mail reported that “A 'secret' meeting between Boris Johnson and Sue Gray was requested by her and did not discuss her detailed findings about Partygate, Whitehall sources said last night.

“A senior official told the Daily Mail that an 'email trail' would demolish Opposition claims that the Prime Minister had demanded the meeting in order to 'fix' Miss Gray's report before publication.”

Soon afterwards, in an interview with ITV News, Simon Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury was asked “who initiated the meeting between the Prime Minister and Sue Gray”. He responded “That meeting was held at the instigation of Ms Gray”

Later that day the Prime Minister’s official spokesman stated that the meeting was instigated by No 10 and not Gray, saying “The technical meeting request came through from Sue Gray, but it was initially suggested by officials in No10 that it may be something that she might want to consider.”

Verdict

Note the use of  “Whitehall sources” to pass on fabricated information politically convenient to the government through the medium of a sympathetic newspaper. This dishonest use of anonymous official sources, quoted in sympathetic media outlets, has been part of the working procedures of the Johnson administration right from the start. 

We approached the Cabinet Office to give them a chance to comment about this use of ‘Whitehall sources’, but received no response.

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