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Chief Partygate Investigator Sue Gray Appointed As Keir Starmer's Chief of Staff

Sue Gray has been appointed to a senior role within Labour (Alamy)

3 min read

Veteran civil servant Sue Gray, who led last year's 'partygate' investigation, has left her government position to take up a senior role in Labour as leader Keir Starmer's chief of staff.

Gray resigned from her job as head of the Union and Constitution Directorate at the Cabinet Office to take up the new role on Thursday, according to Sky News.

"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," a Labour Party spokesperson said, confirming the appointment. 

"Keir Starmer is delighted she is hoping to join our preparations for government and our mission to build a better Britain."

Gray servant rose to public prominence after she was appointed to lead the 'Partygate' probe into allegations of lockdown breaching gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall during the Covid lockdown.

Her report delivered a scathing assessment of then prime minister Boris Johnson's behaviour during the pandemic, saying the repeated gatherings showed a "failure of leadership and judgement".

News of her appointment led to fury among some Conservative MPs, who believe her decision to take up the new job with Labour cast doubts on political impartiality in relation to the partygate investigation.

Conservative MP Brendan Clark-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."

It is unknown when Gray will take up the post as will likely be subject to the ACOBA process, which vets new roles taken up by former ministers and ex-senior civil servants leaving the government.

She is likely to be forced to take a three month break before starting with Labour while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could be given the final say on whether her appointment is permitted under the rules.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office confirmed they were already planning to review the "circumstances under which she resigned".

"We can confirm that Sue Gray has resigned from the post of Second Permanent Secretary in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities," they said.

"This was accepted by the department Permanent Secretary and Cabinet Secretary with immediate effect.

“We will not be commenting further on individual personnel matters. We are reviewing the circumstances under which she resigned."

Gray, whose new role will see her helping Labour prepare for government, comes after a long career in the civil service, including a four year stint as "propriety and ethics" lead at the cabinet office, a role which saw her undertake dozens of investigations into ministers.

Gray will replace Sam White as Starmer's chief of staff after she was removed from the post after just a year following reports he was unpopular with other members of the shadow cabinet.

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