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Sue Gray’s Report Suggests Several Workplace Failures

Sue Gray’s Report Suggests Several Workplace Failures
31 January 2022

Excessive alcohol consumption, a lack of whistleblowing procedures and buildings that “could not be easily adapted as COVID-secure workplaces” are just some of the findings from Sue Gray’s eagerly awaited update.

As a result of several allegations into gatherings on government premises (including at Number 10 Downing Street) during COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, Civil Servant Sue Gray has published her preliminary findings.


"The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every Government Department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace."

–Sue Gray

Civil Servant


“Long Hours Under Difficult Conditions”


The report provides context by explaining that groups of government officials worked long hours “under difficult conditions in buildings that could not be easily adapted as COVID secure workplaces.”

It also states that staff moved “regularly” between Number 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office in 70 Whitehall as part of their daily work.


Alcohol Consumption at Work


To quote the report directly: “the excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time”, and there is a recommendation that every government department has a “clear and robust policy” in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace.


Downing Street Garden Used as Extension of Workplace


The Prime Minister’s flat and the Downing Street garden are in close proximity to the offices and serve a dual office and private purpose, Sue explained.

The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street. However during the pandemic, it was often used as a more COVID-secure workspace, described as “a sensible measure that staff appreciated”.

It was found that the garden was also used for gatherings without clear authorisation and that official access to the space, including for meetings, should be by invitation only and in a controlled environment.


Staff Felt Unable to Challenge Poor Conduct


The report also says that some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so.

Sue Gray cites this as being a symptom of the growth ub the number of staff working at Downing Street, and that: “the structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion."

Picture: a photograph of No 10 Downing Street. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 31 January 2022


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