According to Sky News, Sir Keir Starmer had been in talks with Sue Gray for at least four months before officially announcing her appointment as his chief of staff. The Labour leader had refused to disclose the timing of his first contact with the top civil servant, but sources say their first discussion took place in October 2022. It was Sir Keir’s office that initiated the contact, which led to multiple conversations with Ms Gray, who was then a permanent secretary working on the constitution and the union of the UK. The negotiations remained confidential until March, when Sky News revealed the talks.
Communication After Gray’s Report into Boris Johnson
The first communication between Sir Keir and Ms Gray came after the publication of her report into Boris Johnson, which was released in May 2022. During this time, the Privileges Committee was investigating whether Mr Johnson had lied to parliament and had requested evidence from the government, which could have included Ms Gray’s work. However, the committee later confirmed that they relied on their own material for their inquiry, and the extent of what Ms Gray knew is unclear.
Waiting for Decision from ACOBA
The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) now has the power to delay Ms Gray’s appointment, but not block it. Labour is waiting for a decision from ACOBA to determine when she can start work. Meanwhile, Ms Gray has not cooperated with a separate probe led by the Cabinet Office, and a larger report into her resignation had been expected but was withheld by cabinet secretary Simon Case due to sensitivity concerns. The First Division Association (FDA) union is providing support to Ms Gray during these inquiries, with no involvement from Labour or the Cabinet Office.
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