Downing Street has admitted it was No.10 that asked Sue Gray to meet Boris Johnson to discuss her partygate report.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said on Monday the face-to-face discussion was “initially suggested by officials in No.10”.
Earlier, Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told the BBC the controversial meeting was “instigated” by Gray.
And the Daily Mail reported an “insider” accusing Gray of “playing politics” and “enjoying the limelight a little too much”.
But No.10 said later this morning while Gray technically sent the “formal, technical request” for a meeting, it had been Downing Street officials who had first “suggested it would be helpful” for one to take place.
Gray’s long-awaited report is finally set to be published this week and could feature photographs of illegal gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall.
No.10 has not revealed what was discussed in the meeting between the prime minister and Gray.
Asked if the minutes of the talks would be published, the PM’s spokesperson said: “No, it was a private meeting. We wouldn’t publish details of a private meeting.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has called on Johnson to “urgently explain” why the “secret meeting” with Gray took place.
The Lib Dems will also try to pressure No.10 to publish the minutes by issuing the demand in a “humble address”, a parliamentary procedure used to force government’s to release documents.
The Gray report will follow the Metropolitan Police inquiry into rule-breaching events in Downing Street and Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions.
A total of 83 people were fined for events spanning eight separate days, including the PM, wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
They all received one fixed penalty notice for an event for Johnson’s 56th birthday in June 2020, when indoor mixing was banned.
Despite not being fined, reports suggest that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case will come in for severe criticism in the Gray report and could face heavy pressure to resign.