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Won’t go, Johnson says after party report

by JILL LAWLESS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | May 26, 2022 at 3:54 a.m.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in Downing Street, London, Wednesday, May 25 2022, following the publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall. An investigative report blames British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior leaders for allowing boozy government parties that broke the U.K.’s COVID-19 lockdown rules. While Johnson said he took “full responsibility” for the breach, he insisted he would not resign. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)

LONDON -- An investigative report released Wednesday blamed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior leaders for allowing boozy government parties that broke the U.K.'s covid-19 lockdown rules, and while Johnson said he took "full responsibility" for the breaches, he insisted he would not resign.

Revelations that Johnson and his staff repeatedly flouted restrictions they imposed on Britain in 2020 and 2021 have fueled anger in the country and led to calls from opponents for Johnson to step down over the scandal known as "partygate."

It's not yet clear if senior civil servant Sue Gray's report will change Johnson's relationship with his Conservative Party, despite its detailed descriptions of alcohol-fueled bashes in the building where the prime minister both lives and works.

Gray investigated 16 gatherings attended by Johnson and his staff while U.K. residents were barred from socializing, or even from visiting sick and dying relatives, because of coronavirus restrictions.

Gray's report concluded that the "senior leadership team ... must bear responsibility" for a rule-breaking culture. She said there had been "failures of leadership and judgment" in the prime minister's 10 Downing St. office.

"Those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organized," she said.

A separate police investigation resulted in fines for 83 people --including Johnson -- making him the first British prime minister found to have broken the law while in office.

Speaking to lawmakers after the report was published, Johnson said he took "full responsibility for everything that took place" and was sorry -- but denied he knowingly broke any rules. He said he was "humbled" and had "learned a lesson" but it was now time to "move on" and focus on Britain's battered economy and the war in Ukraine.

Critics, some of them in the Conservative Party, have said Johnson lied to Parliament about the events. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament are expected to resign.

Johnson attended several events mentioned in Gray's report, including a June 2020 birthday party for which he was fined $63. He told a news conference: "I believed that they were work events."

Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Gray's report was a "catalogue of criminality" and that Johnson's government had "treated the sacrifices of the British people with utter contempt."

Gray's mandate did not allow her to mete out punishment. Much of her 37-page report is devoted to a detailed account of the events, including a May 2020 party in the Downing Street garden to which "the Prime Minister brought cheese and wine from his flat" and a party the next month at which "one individual was sick" and "there was a minor altercation between two other individuals."

  photo  Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in Downing Street, London, Wednesday, May 25 2022, following the publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall. An investigative report blames British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior leaders for allowing boozy government parties that broke the U.K.’s COVID-19 lockdown rules. While Johnson said he took “full responsibility” for the breach, he insisted he would not resign. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)
 
 
  photo  Hail falls during a thunder and lighting storm as a police officer stands guard outside 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been shadowed by career-threatening scandal for months — but so far he has escaped unscathed. This week he faces one more threat to his political future: a comprehensive report into coronavirus lockdown-breaching parties in government offices that is expected to be published within days. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
 
 
  photo  A street cleaner walks past 10 Downing Street, in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. British Prime Minister Johnson is awaiting a senior civil servant's report into lockdown-breaking government parties that could further weaken his grip on power. The results of senior civil servant Sue Gray's investigation of the "partygate" scandal could come as soon as Wednesday, and will pile more pressure on the prime minister. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
 
 
  photo  A police officer goes into 10 Downing Street, in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. British Prime Minister Johnson is awaiting a senior civil servant's report into lockdown-breaking government parties that could further weaken his grip on power. The results of senior civil servant Sue Gray's investigation of the "partygate" scandal could come as soon as Wednesday, and will pile more pressure on the prime minister. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
 
 
  photo  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. A report into lockdown-breaching U.K. government parties says blame for a "culture" of rule-breaking in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office must rest with those at the top. Senior civil servant Sue Gray's long-awaited report was published Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
 
 
  photo  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson carries his folders as he leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. A report into lockdown-breaching U.K. government parties says blame for a "culture" of rule-breaking in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office must rest with those at the top. Senior civil servant Sue Gray's long-awaited report was published Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
 
 
  photo  Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in Downing Street, London, Wednesday, May 25 2022, following the publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall. An investigative report blames British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior leaders for allowing boozy government parties that broke the U.K.’s COVID-19 lockdown rules. While Johnson said he took “full responsibility” for the breach, he insisted he would not resign. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)
 
 
  photo  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. A report into lockdown-breaching U.K. government parties says blame for a "culture" of rule-breaking in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office must rest with those at the top. Senior civil servant Sue Gray's long-awaited report was published Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
 
 
  photo  Britain's Prime Minister Bortis Johnson walks in Downing Street to a press conference in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2022.A report into lockdown-breaching U.K. government parties says blame for a "culture" of rule-breaking in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office must rest with those at the top. Senior civil servant Sue Gray's long-awaited report was published Wednesday.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
 
 

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