MP Duncan Baker points finger at civil service over Partygate

Prime minister Boris Johnson is under face scrutiny

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (inset) has given his reaction to the Sue Gray report into illegal lockdown parties at No10.   - Credit: PA

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker says “a very heavy finger” needs to be pointed at the civil service in the wake of the Sue Gray report into illegal lockdown parties at 10 Downing Street.

Speaking on Radio Norfolk on Thursday morning, Mr Baker refused to condemn Boris Johnson over the affair, nor voiced his wholehearted support for the prime minister.

Instead, Mr Baker took aim at the employees working around him.

He said: “My biggest concern in reading it is just the extent to how appalling the civil service have behaved over the last two years, two years ago. A very heavy finger needs to be pointed at them.

“I am surprised that Simon Case, who is the head of the civil service and cabinet secretary, is in his role at the moment. There has been some appalling behaviour.

“I’m glad that the report has been put together, it does show just how people in No.10 behave and clearly they should not have been behaving that way at all."

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary and the UK's most senior civil servant, giving evidence on the wor

Simon Case, the cabinet secretary and the UK's most senior civil servant. - Credit: PA

Mr Baker suggested his opinion would have been different had Mr Johnson received multiple fines from the police, rather than just the one he got for a June 2020 'birthday party' in No.10’s cabinet room. 

Photos released this week show Mr Johnson, Mr Case and chancellor Rishi Sunak at that gathering - with the other attendees blurred out.

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They show the group standing around a table filled with sandwiches and drinks. In one shot Mr Johnson appears to be hoisting a can of lager aloft in a toast. 

Mr Baker also declined to criticise South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, who has claimed NHS staff were "letting their hair down" during the pandemic. 

But Mr Baker said: “I’ve seen just how hard people who are caring for other work and it’s not the comments I would have used.”

BBC presenter Chris Goreham said Mr Baker was the only Norfolk Tory MP who even bothered to respond to a request for an interview on Thursday. 

Finally commenting directly to this newspaper on Friday afternoon, Mr Baker added that the Sue Gray report was “undoubtedly troubling”.

He said: “I think it reveals failures of leadership and judgement, alongside a culture which simply must change.

“For our system to function, the public needs to be able to trust those in power, and quite frankly people deserve much better than what this report exposes.”