British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside 10 Downing. | MAY JAMES

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An inquiry into COVID-19 lockdown-breaking parties at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office and residence said this afternoon some of these should not have taken place, and serious failures of leadership and judgment occurred at the heart of the British government.

Johnson is facing the gravest threat to his premiership over the parties at Number 10 Downing Street, and the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray had the potential to trigger an end to his premiership.

However, parts of the report were not published due to an ongoing police investigation, which may allow Johnson to survive. He has so far weathered calls from opponents and some in his own party to resign by saying people needed to wait for the report.

"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's report said.
She also said the "excessive consumption of alcohol" at Downing Street was not appropriate.

Gray was tasked with looking into what has become weeks of a steady drip of stories about events in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdown, with reports of aides stuffing a suitcase full of supermarket alcohol and dancing until the early hours.

Accounts of more than a dozen gatherings - including a "bring your own booze" party in the Downing Street garden - have provoked widespread public anger. Millions were kept apart from loved ones for months because of the restrictions and many were not able to say their final goodbyes to dying family members.

Her report said of 16 allegations of rule-breaking gatherings at Downing Street or other government offices, 12 were under investigation by police.

"As I have noted, a number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did," she said in the report, entitled Investigation into Alleged Gatherings on Government Premises during COVID Restrictions - Update.
Opponents were critical of the limited nature of the report.

"This watered down update is utterly pointless," said Ed Davey, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat party. "Everyone knows Boris Johnson broke the rules and lied to the country."