Former cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill has been alleged to have attended of one of the Whitehall gatherings under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Sedwill had “briefly attended” an 18 June 2020 event at the Cabinet Office to mark the departure of a Downing Street private secretary.
It said the event was one of 12 gatherings being probed by the police as potential breaches of Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time, following Cabinet Office second permanent secretary Sue Gray’s in-house investigation.
Prime minister Boris Johnson originally appointed current cab sec Simon Case – who succeeded Sedwill in the role in September 2020 – to lead the Whitehall probe. However, Case recused himself from the inquiry after details emerged of an event on 17 December 2020 held by his own private office.
The Telegraph said that both Sedwill – now a crossbench peer in the House of Lords – and the Cabinet Office had declined to comment on its claims.
The paper noted that it was the first known event Sedwill was alleged to have been present at after details of potentially rule-breaking gatherings in No.10 Downing Street and other parts of Whitehall began to emerge.
An update on Sue Gray’s investigation, published on Monday, identified a total of 16 events that may have been breaches of rules in place at the time.
“At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time,” Gray said.
She said “failures of leadership and judgement", blurred lines of accountability and a No.10 operation that had expanded without sufficient structures to keep it in check had been contributory factors.