Carrie Johnson’s texts about ‘the gays’ at centre of new Partygate ‘cover-up’ storm
A text by Carrie Johnson referring to friends as “The Gays” has become the latest focus of the ongoing Partygate scandal.
After the Sue Gray report into lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street was published on 25 May, it was widely criticised for failing to investigate a number of alleged events reported to involve the prime minister.
Now, claims have emerged that a gathering was held at Boris and Carrie Johnson’s Downing Street flat on the evening of his 56th birthday – with texts sent by Carrie Johnson cited as potential evidence.
Carrie Johnson is alleged to have sent text messages to a Number 10 aide which suggested that she hosted several friends in the flat for a gathering, the Sunday Times reported. The text messages would also suggest the prime minister went up to the flat.
The messages reportedly showed that the aide telling Carrie Johnson that her husband was heading to the flat. According to the Telegraph, she replied: “Great. I am here already with The Gays.”
The term is apparently an affectionate reference to Carrie Johnson’s close circle of gay male friends.
In February, a Downing Street staffer told Dans Hodges, The Mail on Sunday columnist, that Carrie Johnson would use such language to refer to certain individuals.
The staffer claimed she would say: “I’m with The Gays up in the flat. Can you come up?”
Hodges said that he was told it was supposed to be an affectionate nickname but was told that it actually made some aides uncomfortable.
The alleged gathering would have taken place hours after the Cabinet Room ‘surprise’ birthday party that led to Boris and Carrie Johnson, as well as Rishi Sunak, to be fined by the Metropolitan Police.
Boris Johnson made history in April by becoming the first sitting prime minister to have officially been found to have broken the law after accepting the fixed penalty notice.
The messages about this second birthday gathering were not featured in Sue Gray’s damning official report into illicit parties in and around Downing Street.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner called for an investigation. She claimed that the messages had been suppressed and were part of “yet another cover-up”, the Guardian reported.
Rayner said the messages raised “new questions about potential misconduct in public office, which must now be subject to proper and genuinely independent scrutiny”.
Carrie Johnson’s spokesperson didn’t deny the event but said that Gray was made aware of the texts as “part of her exhaustive inquiry into alleged breaches” of COVID-19 rules.
They added: “Staff were given ample opportunity to present evidence including these messages, and all relevant information was passed to the Metropolitan Police for investigation.
“The lunchtime gathering in the Cabinet Room on 19 June, 2020 was subsequently found to be in breach and a fixed-penalty notice was issued to Mrs Johnson among others, for which she apologised unreservedly and promptly paid the fine.”
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According to the Telegraph, the aide who had the texts on their phone claimed they were prepared to show them to inquiry officials in person, but they declined to forward the messages. They also reportedly agreed to supply the messages to the Metropolitan Police’s separate Partygate inquiry.
The aide has reportedly written to cabinet secretary Simon Case and offered to share “some evidence I provided to the Gray report and the Met that I feel is important”.
The messages come as a separate Downing Street gathering could also be re-examined. It’s been alleged that a party was held in the Downing Street flat on 13 November, 2020, held to mark the departures of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.
The alleged gathering has been dubbed the ‘ABBA party’ as it was reported that Swedish pop group’s music was playing loudly during the party as food and alcohol were consumed.
Gray admitted she stopped investigating that event when the Met started their inquiries and chose not to pursue her inspection afterwards.
According to Gray’s report, the meeting began after 6pm, and Boris Johnson joined at around 8pm. Gray said that the discussion “carried on later into the evening” with food and alcohol available.