Tory fury after Sue Gray’s activist son is pictured posing with Sir Keir Starmer during Partygate probe: Images taken at Labour events reignite impartiality row engulfing the top civil servant as she becomes party’s chief of staff
- Snaps show Ms Gray’s son, Liam Conlon, standing with Sir Keir in February 2020
- Allies of Boris Johnson claim the move shows her report was a Labour ‘stitch-up’
Sue Gray was last night facing fresh questions about alleged bias as pictures of her son standing alongside Sir Keir Starmer emerged – including one taken during her Partygate probe.
The pictures reignited the ‘impartiality’ row engulfing the former top civil servant after she quit her Whitehall role last week to become Sir Keir’s chief of staff.
Allies of former prime minister Boris Johnson claim the move shows that her Partygate report, which contributed to his downfall, was a Labour ‘stitch-up’.
Snaps unearthed by the Daily Mail show Ms Gray’s Labour activist son, Liam Conlon, standing next to Sir Keir in February 2020. Mr Conlon, chairman of Labour’s Irish Society, posted on social media alongside the image that the group held a ‘brilliant’ evening event with Sir Keir as they nominated him to replace Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.
The pair were pictured alongside each other again at another Labour Party Irish Society event on March 14 – during his mother’s Partygate probe – where Sir Keir was booked as a speaker.
Snaps unearthed by the Daily Mail show Ms Gray’s Labour activist son, Liam Conlon (circled), standing next to Sir Keir in February 2020
The pictures reignited the ‘impartiality’ row engulfing former top civil servant Sue Gray (pictured in January) after she quit her Whitehall role last week to become Sir Keir’s chief of staff
Ms Gray was appointed to lead the investigation into gatherings in Downing Street during lockdown in December 2021, with her report published in May last year.
It is being used as a key plank of the Commons privileges committee’s investigation into whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament over what he knew about lockdown rules being broken.
Allies of Mr Johnson say it is ‘absurd’ to rely on Ms Gray’s report because her new job shows she was biased. It comes after reports that Mr Conlon was heard boasting about his mother’s role in Partygate as he campaigned for Labour candidate Danny Beales in Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge seat in west London.
Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘It becomes increasingly difficult to believe that Sue Gray has magically metamorphosed into a politician having previously been impartial. It looks as if the civil service has been harbouring a socialist sleeper cell and it invalidates her previous work.’
Former home secretary Priti Patel said: ‘The level of collusion between the Gray family and the Labour Party and the depth of their relationship is scandalous. It questions the fundamental principles of impartiality, professional standards and transparency within the civil service.’
Tory MP Simon Clarke said: ‘After a week when you would have thought things couldn’t get worse, it is now becoming clear just how closely Sue Gray’s family are involved not just in Labour Party politics, but specifically in the campaign to destroy Boris Johnson.
‘Sue Gray must have known about her son’s close links to Sir Keir Starmer when she was asked to undertake such a high-profile investigation into a Conservative PM. These revelations further strengthen the need for a proper inquiry into what has happened before the privileges committee continues what feels ever more like a witch-hunt against an elected Prime Minister.’
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘These revelations show that Sue Gray is part of a Labour network that has been plotting against Boris Johnson.’
Sue Gray with the Labour politicians Tessa Jowell and Baroness Lawrence, and her son
But Labour hit back last night, with a senior party source saying: ‘To suggest Sue Gray’s long, esteemed career… is in some way undermined by her son having a political opinion, is wild.’
Ms Gray is expected to formally request permission to become Sir Keir’s chief of staff today. She will submit her application to the advisory committee on business appointments, where she will have to set out the timeline of her discussions with Labour.
Under civil service rules, she should have declared when Labour first approached her to take the job. But she has been facing questions about whether she breached this requirement after officials first learnt of her resignation on Thursday.
Labour has refused to say when it first contacted her.
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