Boris Johnson met civil servant to discuss timing of 'partygate' report publication, his spokesman says

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens after making a statement on Sue Gray's report regarding the alleged Downing Street parties during COVID-19 lockdown, in the House of Commons in London, Britain, January 31, 2022. UK Parliament/UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

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LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met senior civil servant Sue Gray this month to discuss the timings for publication of a report she had overseen into COVID-19 lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, his spokesman said on Monday.

The government is expected this week to publish a long-awaited report into the events held at Johnson's Downing Street office during coronavirus lockdowns. Police have handed out 126 fines in connection with the parties.

The report, which is expected to include details of some events that were not investigated by the police, could spur more criticism of the British leader, who has been under months of pressure over a raft of scandals and U-turns.

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The spokesman said the meeting between Johnson and Gray was not at the request of the prime minister, but rather a suggestion at "official level".

"It was discussed that it might be useful to give an overview of what Sue Gray and her team were planning with regards to publication and timings of publication of the final report," the spokesman said, adding such information would help Downing Street plan.

The prime minister has not yet received the report, the spokesman said. He did not say when it would be published.

Asked if Johnson objected to photos of the parties being in the report, the spokesman said it was up to Gray to decide what was included. The spokesman said he was not aware of any legal challenges that would delay the report being published.

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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, writing Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Kylie MacLellan

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