Politics

Sue Gray Report: MPs may ‘compel UK Government’ to release unredacted document

IAN Blackford has suggested that MPs may launch an attempt to use Parliament to “compel the Government” to release the full details of the Sue Gray report if a redacted version is made public.

Ms Gray is due to hand over her investigation into a string of parties and gatherings held at Downing Street during lockdown – amid suggestions the document may either be held up or heavily redacted after the Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation into some of the events.

After the Met asked for Ms Gray to make “minimal references” to the events the force is investigating, it is possible the full report will not be made public in the coming days.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon calls for swift publication of Sue Gray report

The SNP’s Westminster leader, who has long-called for Boris Johnson to resign for his part in the lockdown rule-breaking events, said there is no reason for information to be withheld – claiming the police investigation involves people potentially being issued with fixed penalty notices, warning “we’re not talking about jury trials”.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Mr Blackford said: “The report should be published – there is no reason why it should be held up.

“What we’re talking about is fines that would be meted out to people – this report is not sub-judacy.”

READ MORE: Sue Gray report ‘cover up’ warning after police ask for details of probed parties to be left out

He added: “My message to Sue Gray, and I understand the difficulty she’s in, is she should give over that report in full to the Prime Minister – the Prime Minister should publish it tomorrow and he should come to the House of Commons tomorrow and make a statement.”

Mr Blackford was pressed over the possibility that parts of the report could be redacted or left out.

He said: “It’s supposed to be a fact-finding report – a fact-finding report that leaves out the most important facts.

“Boris Johnson, on the face of it, is getting away with it one more time as he’s done over many occasions.”

Asked if MPs can use “powers of the Parliament to get the full report out”, Mr Blackford said: “Yes we can.”

HeraldScotland: SNP Westminster leader Ian BlackfordSNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford

He added: “In the end, this is a report that Boris Johnson has promised the Parliament, so the Parliament can use its powers to compel the Government to release any information that it wants.

“My message to parliamentarians (is) we have to do our job. We have to have this report, the public are demanding this and there is no reason why it should be held up – so let’s see what we can do under parliamentary procedure to make sure that we can get this.”

But Mr Blackford admitted that MPs intervening “will take time”.

He added: “There are motions that we can lay. We’ve done this over Government papers, over Brexit, for example, in the previous parliament.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter: Cressida Dick to the rescue but the Tory Party is doomed – it doesn’t know what it’s for anymore.

“Under the way that Westminster sees itself, Parliament is supposed to be sovereign. We have a duty to make sure that this information is made public.”

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, one of the frontrunners to replace Mr Johnson if he is forced to resign, told the BBC that the PM is “absolutely” the best person to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.

Asked if she is tempted by the top job, she said: “There is no contest. There is no discussion.”

On whether Mr Johnson is the best leader to take the Tories into the next general election, Ms Truss said: “Absolutely he is.”

Asked when the report will be published, Ms Truss said: “That’s a matter for Sue Gray.”

She added: “It is our intention to publish the full report.

“There are issues, of course, with the fcat that we now have the police investigation alongsiude the Sue Gray report – but we have an independent report being conducted by Sue Gray, we have an operationally-independent police force and we have to allow them to get on with that.

“My view is the Prime Minsiter has apologised for what happened. He made clear mistakes were made. We have so many other issues of major importance for this country to focus on.”

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