LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson presided over an office in which there were widespread violations of coronavirus restrictions, according to a long-awaited government investigation released on Wednesday.
The report, by a senior civil servant, Sue Gray, included multiple photographs of Mr. Johnson raising a glass at a birthday party held in his honor, which breached the rules and for which he paid a police fine. It noted that 83 people violated the rules at parties, at which some drank heavily and damaged property.
Still, the report did not deliver any particularly damaging new information about Mr. Johnson’s behavior, and even credited Downing Street with changing some of its practices to address an office culture that Ms. Gray described in an earlier, redacted version of her report as soaked in alcohol.
Ms. Gray did not recommend any punishment for people who violated the rules. But she pointedly said junior employees attended parties that were also attended by their superiors, suggesting that Mr. Johnson and other senior figures deserved the lion’s share of the responsibility for the rule-breaking.
Ms. Gray’s conclusions were highly critical of the culture in Downing Street and are likely to increase political pressure on Mr. Johnson. “A number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did,” the document said.
It added that “at least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time.”
“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff,” Ms Gray wrote, adding: “This was unacceptable.”
“Many will be dismayed that behavior of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behavior in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this,” Ms. Gray noted.
Mr. Johnson faced new questions this week about his involvement in parties during the lockdown after ITV News on Monday published pictures showing him drinking at a gathering in Downing Street thought to have taken place on Nov. 13, 2020.
Mr. Johnson has denied in Parliament that a party took place on that date, raising doubts about whether he gave a truthful account to fellow lawmakers. At least one person who attended the event is believed to have been fined by the police for breaking lockdown laws, so London’s Metropolitan Police also faces calls to explain why Mr. Johnson escaped punishment in this case.
The prime minister delivered a statement in Parliament early on Wednesday afternoon, when he will answer questions from lawmakers, including a number of critics within his own Conservative Party. He is also expected to speak at a news conference and then to address his own lawmakers in private.
The release of Ms. Gray’s full findings over the scandal was blocked in January when police began their own investigations. Even so, her preliminary report — which was made public but with parts redacted — was damning, concluding that there were “failures of leadership and judgment” by different parts of Downing Street and the government machine.
Last week the Metropolitan Police said their inquiries into “Partygate” were complete, clearing the way for Ms. Gray to finish her report.